The state is expecting up to 8 inches of rain in some regions, Cooper said.
RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As Hurricane Ian marched toward North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper shared "simple" message: "Be smart and be safe."
The state is expected up to 8 inches of rain in some regions, strong winds, storm surge along the coast, flash flooding and isolated tornadoes, the governor said Friday afternoon from the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh. The state of emergency declared Wednesday remains in effect.
LIVE UPDATES: Hurricane Ian heads toward NC
Cooper said emergency responders are staged throughout North Carolina and working to keep people safe. As of Friday afternoon, 25 counties have opened or partially activated their local emergency operations centers, 12 of those with local stations of emergency in place, said North Carolina Emergency Management Director William Ray.
Utility companies deployed crews from across the U.S. to handle the increase in power outages.
For the roads, more than 2,200 NCDOT officials are on standby to use more than 221 motor graders, 376 backhoes and loaders, 1,440 chainsaws and 1,368 trucks to cut and shove downed trees and debris.
Originally, forecasters expected heavy rains in the western part of the state, but Cooper said southeastern and central regions now see the most rainfall. He said emergency crews are ready to reposition if needed.
"This storm reminds us how unpredictable hurricanes can be," he said.
He also cautioned drivers to stay off the roads and listen to local officials to avoid the dangers of flash flooding seen in the state during Hurricanes Florence and Matthew.
"If you have to go out, do not drive through water," he said. "It only takes a few inches to sweep a car away."
WATCH: Survival tips if you get trapped in a flash flood
On Thursday afternoon, Cooper urged North Carolinians to pay close attention to the weather and take necessary measures as the remnants of Hurricane Ian approach the state.
"Hurricane Ian reminds us how unpredictable these storms can be and North Carolinians should be prepared when it reaches our state," Cooper said Thursday. "Heavy rains, up to seven inches in some areas, are likely to bring some flooding. Landslides are a threat in our mountains and there's a chance of tornadoes statewide. Coastal flooding and gusty winds are likely as the storm passes through. This storm is still dangerous."
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"Even though this storm will lose strength by the time it reaches North Carolina, that even tropical or subtropical storms with heavy rains and winds can cause severe damage and death in North Carolina. So we're going to be ready," Cooper said.
Cooper urged people to have emergency kits ready, including battery-operated radios, bottled water, non-perishable foods, and extra medications.
"Most importantly - don't drive through water on the roads. Many people have died in past storms when their vehicles were caught in floodwaters. We're seeing people being rescued right now from cars in Florida. Don't take the chance," Cooper said.
"Always use generators outdoors and away from the home to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. This is the same for gas and charcoal grills. Never use those indoors, as their fumes can be deadly. Don't try to charge your cellphone by running the car in the garage. That creates deadly carbon monoxide fumes as well," said William Ray, Director of North Carolina Emergency Management.
Meteorologists are closely tracking Ian's path, though are not anticipating widespread outages or evacuations.
"The divisions have also taken inventory of items that they need to use for repair of pipes and bridges as needed. Our traffic safety units have been proactively tracking speeds on our north, south interstate routes since early this week. And at this point have not observed any issues with any additional traffic coming from evacuations," said Eric Boyette, NCDOT Secretary.
With a State of Emergency declared, the price gouging law is in effect. Price gouging is when a business charges unreasonably high rates in the midst of a crisis, ranging on products from gasoline to groceries to cleaning products. If you feel a business is engaging in price gouging, take a picture of your receipt, and submit a claim here or call (877) 5-NO-SCAM. If the Attorney General's Office finds a complaint is valid, a business can face fines up to $5,000 for each violation.