Thousands without power after Irma sweeps by North Carolina

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The North Carolina National Guard is ready to respond to help deal with the effects of Tropical Storm Irma.

Despite the storm's shift toward the west, Cooper said he wants North Carolinians in all regions of the state to prepare, especially if Irma unexpectedly shifts east. "Make sure you are ready for whatever Irma brings", Cooper said at a news conference. Brief, isolated, weak tornadoes are also possible on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Lauren Carroll, a meteorologist with the weather service's Greer, S.C. office, said rainfall totals might decrease for the area if Irma continues moving west. Based on the latest forecast track, central and eastern North Carolina should see one to possibly as much as four inches of rain and wind gusts between 20 and 40 miles per hour. A wind advisory was in effect for the Charlotte area until 4 a.m. Tuesday as winds howled at speeds of 15-25 miles per hour with gusts touching upward of 40 miles per hour. In the mountains, that could produce risky flash flooding; the N.C. National Guard is staging about 315 soldiers and airmen in Charlotte, Greensboro and Asheville on Sunday in case they're needed in the coming days with debris removal, shelter operations and delivering and distributing supplies, according to Gov. Roy Cooper's office.

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Roy Cooper addressed soldiers in Greensboro, where many also trained to perform swift-water rescues.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT)-North Carolina Emergency Management is working with the American Red Cross and county emergency managers to open shelters for people who are coming to North Carolina from Florida and other states to get out of Hurricane Irma's path.

At least 16,000 other customers had not electricity, most in western North Carolina. The storm was expected to land in the Florida Keys and southern Florida by Saturday afternoon or night.

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