RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) — Governor Roy Cooper urged residents to be prepared for the effects of tropical system Idalia as the storm impacts North Carolina Wednesday night and into Thursday.

“Over the past 24 hours, we’ve seen Hurricane Idalia plow through the Southeast, leaving destruction behind,” Cooper said in a Wednesday press briefing on the storm. “Even though North Carolina isn’t its first stop, this storm’s heavy rains can do damage. I encourage people to listen to local officials and make sure you have a plan if you are in an area with a flood risk.”

Cooper said heavy rainfall and localized flooding were the greatest threats as Idalia came closer to the southeastern corner of the state. Flash flooding was likely across Eastern North Carolina and into the Piedmont with a Flood Watch in effect generally south and east of the I-85 corridor.

The heaviest rainfall of 5-8 inches with localized totals up to 10 inches was expected across southern portions of the I-95 corridor northeastward into central portions of the coast this evening into early tomorrow. Tropical Storm warnings were in effect for the entire coast, with a Storm Surge Watch in effect for north Beaufort Inlet to Ocracoke Inlet, as well as the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers. A Tornado Watch is in effect for our southeastern counties with the threat of tornadoes increasing during the afternoon hours.

With Hurricane Idalia expected to bring strong, potentially tropical storm force, winds and heavy rain to northeast North Carolina, several school systems are adjusting their schedules as a precaution.

The Department of Transportation Ferry Division also announced it is suspending service on most routes for Thursday.

The state has been preparing for Idalia for several days. Governor Cooper declared a State of Emergency Tuesday to activate the state’s emergency operations plan, waive transportation rules, help the transport of fuel and critical supplies and services, help first responders and assist the agriculture industry prepare and protect consumers from price gouging.

The Governor also authorized the activation of more than 120 National Guard personnel that have moved into position to respond quickly wherever needed from armories in Kinston, Elizabethtown and Rockingham.

Several swift water rescue teams have also been activated.

North Carolina Emergency Management officials offer these tips for being prepared and remaining safe during the storm:

  • Pay close attention to your local weather forecast, and be aware of conditions expected in your area
  • Have a way to receive weather watches and warnings, like a weather app in your cell phone
  • Follow directions from your local emergency officials
  • Do not drive on flooded roads – Turn around, don’t drown.
  • Be prepared for the possibility of power outages. Use battery-powered light sources – avoid candles.
  • If your power goes out, never use generators or barbecue grills in your home or garage – they create deadly carbon monoxide fumes that can kill.
  • Stay away from any downed power lines and report them to your power company.
  • Visit ReadyNC.gov for instructions on how to prepare and assemble your family emergency kit
  • Visit DriveNC.gov for information on road closings from NC Department of Transportation.

Lifeguards on the Outer Banks are encouraging people to stay out of the water unless they’re experienced swimmers or surfers.

“It’s pretty obvious it’s dangerous right so really what we’re looking at with the hurricane swells is the shoulder of the hurricane swells where it’s still pretty small, it’s pretty inviting, this morning the sun was out and it’s really when more people are in the water they have a greater chance of somebody being swept away,” said Kill Devil Hills Assistant Ocean Rescue Supervisor Ben Battaile.