Roy Cooper warned residents to not let their guard down ahead of Hurricane Florence's landfall later this week.
"The fact is this storm is deadly and we know we are days away from an ending", Cooper said. "But I think we're ready". "Florence may be weakening but will have a large storm surge".
Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles from its center.
By mid-afternoon the winds had dropped to 75 miles per hour (120 kph) and the center was moving west at 6 miles per hour (10 kph), the NHC said, and parts of North and SC would get as much as 40 inches of rain (1 meter).
As Hurricane Florence sidesteps Greater Williamsburg, many locals are wondering what to do with all their extra supplies. It's moving toward the coast at a speed of 12mph.
The WXCHARTS map shows the deadly eye of the hurricane moving across North Carolina with wind gusts reaching 131km per hour until subsiding to 80km per hour on Sunday. "Right now it's too early to say if anyone should be getting rid of their supplies just yet".
At least 150 people are still waiting to be rescued from the attics and rooftops of their homes as of 1 p.m. Friday, said New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw, whose adult daughter had 1 foot of water in her own home, he said.
While many sought shelter - about 26,000 people took refuge in 100 shelters and at the 14,000-seat Joel Colisseum in Winston-Salem - others ignored warnings or headed to nearby hotels.
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In New Bern, North Carolina, the storm surge overwhelmed the town of 30,000, located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers.
After coming ashore in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday afternoon and trudged into SC as night came.
Shaken after seeing waves crashing in the Neuse River just outside his house in the town of New Bern, hurricane veteran Tom Ballance wished he had evacuated. "If the number seems really insane high, you always have to have some suspicion until we can actually get out and verify it". She died Friday morning.
As of 8am ET on Thursday, Florence was driving maximum sustained winds of 110mph (177km/h), according to an updated forecast from the National Hurricane Center. "Significant river flooding is expected as a result of excessive rainfall across area hydrologic basins".
After that, Florence is forecast to move northwest and north and move across western SC on Sunday, Sept. 15, and across western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee on Monday, Sept. 16, the NHC said.
The storm was expected to head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said. Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
At the Walmart Emergency Operations Center (EOC), representatives from across the retailer's business have been working to help its facilities, associates and customers prepare for and respond to Florence. Harris Teeter, a Kroger Co. subsidiary, announced closings for 24 stores in North Carolina and 18 stores in SC.
FEMA and the National Weather Service also urged residents along the coast to evacuate. That advisory came out on August 30, when Florence was developing near the Cabo Verde Islands across the Atlantic.