weakened from a Category 4 down to a Category 2 storm Wednesday night but the massive system is still considered extremely dangerous and life threatening. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper urged residents in evacuation areas of his state to get out while they still can.
"There is still time to leave. The winds may be down a bit, but the one-two intense punches that we are expecting are still there. This storm surge can be deadly and then the flooding that will come thereafter with rain being measured in feet instead of inches. We know that this is an extremely dangerous situation," Cooper told "CBS This Morning" on Thursday.
North Carolina and South Carolina are bracing for the onslaught, which could bring storm surges as high as nine feet and rainfall of as much as 40 inches in some areas. Cooper pointed out that people won't be putting their own life at risk if they stick around, but also the lives of first responders who may be called on to rescue them. He also urged those outside of the evacuation zones to be prepared.
"We're on the wrong side of this storm. So we're going to still get a lot of rain and wind and we want people to hunker down, have their supplies and flashlights and batteries. The power companies expect millions of people to be without power for days. So families need to be ready. We're going to be there to help," Cooper said.
As of 8 a.m. ET, the National Hurricane Center said Florence was centered about 170 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 220 miles east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It's expected to make landfall later today.