"The sun rose this morning on an extremely unsafe situation and it's going to get worse", he said at a news conference in Raleigh.
"I'm hearing all this talk about how this is a rain event and the storm is weakening". Roberts says the storm surge continues to increase as Florence passes over the area.
Hurricane-like conditions are expected to arrive in the areas covered by warnings by Thursday night or early Friday.
Forecasters' European climate model is predicting 2 trillion to 11 trillion gallons of rain will fall on North Carolina over the next week, according to meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com.
How many people will it affect?
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Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), warned the danger was not only along the coast: "Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that's what we're about to see", he said. Several videos from the network show their metrologists and weather forecasters on a virtual street surrounded by computer-generated imagery of water, cars and even fish.
"Afterwards, I'm going to drink a bottle of whiskey and take a two-day nap, but right now I'm walking the neighborhood and making sure my neighbors are fine, because nobody can get in here".
The power company has warned that up to 3 million people could be left without power for an extended period of time following Hurricane Florence.
Hurricane Irma destroyed Kathy Griffin's house in Florida past year, and it could be days before she finds out whether Florence smashed her fifth-story condominium in Wrightsville Beach, where authorities said utilities could be out for days or weeks.
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The storm has sustained wind speeds of 90 miles per hour, and a total of 40 inches of rain could fall over the next few days, according to the National Hurricane Center.
And as the storm pushes inland, it could dump 6-10 inches as far inland as Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina as well as in Roanoke, Virginia, he said.
As Hurricane Florence barreled into the shores of Wrightsville Beach, N.C., early Friday, Americans braced for destruction that will effectively shut down daily life across the Southeastern United States in the coming days.
At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Cooper said, with more facilities being opened.
Corps staff can also help places needing temporary power, temporary roofing and housing and ill be part of preliminary damage assessments, Alexander said.
One concerning issue, he said, is whether persistent rain and high wind will preclude search and rescue helicopters from being able to operate "in the hours immediately after the storm hits".
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