RALEIGH: Hurricane Florence is still churning towards the North Carolina coast and the state is wasting no time preparing.

Tuesday night Governor Cooper's office announced that shelters statewide are opening to take in people displaced by evacuations. Prisons and jails in vulnerable areas are evacuating, and long-term care facilities have been urged to work with local emergency management officials to ensure resident and patient safety. The state has announced closures of state parks, museums and other attractions. Governor Cooper has also authorized providing more North Carolina National Guard soldiers for Hurricane Florence response.

RELATED | Tracking Hurricane Florence: 'This Is a Monster Storm, Extremely Dangerous': NC Governor

“Everyone in North Carolina needs to take this vicious, life-threatening storm seriously,” Governor Roy Cooper said. “Shelters are opening tonight and will be available to keep you and your family safe out of Hurricane Florence’s path.”

According to NC Emergency Management officials, Eastern North Carolina could start feeling effects late Wednesday. Landfall is expected on the coast late Thursday or early Friday, where catastrophic impacts are possible due to extreme storm surge, rainfall and wind.

► Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WFMY News 2 App: Apple Users, Android Users

  • People in Central North Carolina should be prepared to feel the impact of the storm from Thursday night through at least Monday due to threat of flooding and widespread and prolonged power outages.
  • Western North Carolina residents should not let their guard down as heavy rain could move into western parts of the state. Governor Cooper is urging the entire state to prepare for impacts from Florence, and people ordered to evacuate should get out now.

Governor Cooper ordered a state evacuation order applying to barrier islands along the entire coast, from the Virginia line to the South Carolina line. Local evacuation orders are in place for many additional areas.

RELATED | NC 'In The Bullseye' Of Hurricane Florence, Get Ready Now: Gov. Roy Cooper

2-1-1 Call Line Open 24/7 for People in Need of Help

The statewide information line can provide callers with nearby shelter, housing and other storm-related details. Dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162. The information line is staffed 24/7 to connect North Carolinians to storm resources.

More National Guard Troops Authorized for Hurricane Response

This evening the governor authorized providing more North Carolina National Guard soldiers for Hurricane Florence response. The 2400 additional soldiers will report for duty by 6 PM Wednesday and come in addition to 200 already activated. Their orders will be to preserve life and safety, route clearance of roads, communications support of friendly forces, and sustainment and logistics support. They will be staging at various locations.

RELATED | Hurricane Florence: List of School Cancellations, Closings in the Piedmont Triad

State Prison Evacuations

The Department of Public Safety’s Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice initiated evacuations of offenders and staff from facilities threatened by Hurricane Florence yesterday.

Several hundred offenders are being moved from facilities in the storm’s projected path to larger facilities within the state prison system. Offenders will be moved back to the affected facilities once it is safe for operations to continue.

All offenders affected by the move will be allowed to make a free phone call to a family member over the weekend to update them on their status.

HURRICANE GUIDE | Be Storm Ready, Prepare Now, Safety And Other Vital Emergency Information

Four county jails have evacuated inmates to larger facilities in the state prison system:

• Carteret

• Beaufort

• Dare

• Chowan

Long-term Care

Long-term care facilities are encouraged to work with their local emergency management officials to implement their emergency plans and make appropriate decisions to ensure patient and resident safety.

State Parks, Museums and Attractions Closed for Safety

For the safety of the public and staff, the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources will close 15 state parks as of 9 a.m. Wednesday and 10 additional state parks by 5 p.m. Wednesday. Fourteen historic sites will also close due to the storm. North Carolina Aquariums are closed as of Tuesday and the North Carolina Zoo will be closed Wednesday through Friday or until further notice.

For the full list of DNCR closings, visit the DNCR website.