RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- "Do not underestimate the storm." That was the message from Governor Roy Cooper Thursday morning as state officials gave a briefing about Hurricane Florence at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh.
"Don't relax, don't get complacent" Governor Cooper said. "Stay on guard. This is a powerful storm that can kill."
Governor Cooper said there are about 108 shelters open in the state with more than 7,000 people staying in them and more could open up.
He said massive flooding and storm surges are the biggest concerns.
"From storm surge alone, tens of thousands of structures are expected to be flooded," he said.
He said 2,800 National Guard troops have been ordered to report for duty.
Governor Cooper is urging everyone to be prepared for power outages that could last for days.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said that there are three things to be done.
"Be prepared, make sure you have your food, your water, your safety kit and importantly, your medications," Cohen said. "And be ready for the storm. Second, you're going to keep hearing this from us. Please do not drive through standing water. It was one of the leading causes of death during Hurricane Matthew and we do not want to see loss of life. Do not drive through standing water and then third, please do not use gas-powered generators inside your home due to risk of carbon monoxide poisoning."
North Carolina State Highway Patrol Colonel Glenn McNeill said that people should not drive on flooded roads.
"Please do not attempt to drive through road closures, roads that have been barricaded or through standing water," Colonel McNeill said. "Doing so will place your life or the life of first responders in harm's way."
"There's over 20 search and rescue task forces already on standby to respond once the storm passes," said Mike Sprayberry, Director of North Carolina Emergency Management.
Governor Cooper said he talked to President Trump about Hurricane Florence who said "whatever we need."
Governor Cooper said North Carolina has traditionally had an excellent relationship with FEMA.
"We feel very confident that we'll have the support that we need," Governor Cooper said. "It's certainly been promised to us and we're going to hold them to that."
Governor Roy Cooper gives update on state preparations ahead of Hurricane Florence