As Tropical Storm Florence continued to drop unprecedented levels of rainfall across much of North Carolina Saturday afternoon, state officials asked interstate travelers to avoid driving through the state.
Jim Trogdon, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, said roads were getting worse with every passing minute.
“I have never seen flash flooding like this occur in our state,” said Trogdon.
In a matter of a few hours Saturday, the number of primary roads closed due to flooding across the state increased from 60 to 100.
Flash flooding affected major roadways including parts of I-40, I-95, US-70, US-1, and US-501.
RELATED: Florence live coverage: ‘This flooding is only going to get worse’
Trogdon said state officials have coordinated with transportation departments in Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia.
He urged drivers planning to travel north or south through North Carolina to take an alternate route and bypass the state, using routes through Tennessee instead.
RELATED: NC road closures and reopenings: I-40, I-95 affected by Florence
Trogdon said it was a necessary move to ensure that critical assistance continues to reach emergency responders engaged with the storm.
“One thing I want to prevent is thousands of people stranded on our interstates or US routes with flooding events on each side, putting more burden on our first responders to be extracting thousands of people that use our roadways daily,” he said.
Gov. Roy Cooper issued another warning to people who have already evacuated affected areas. He asked them not to become someone who needs to be rescued.
“If you have evacuated, don’t go back now,” Cooper said. “It isn’t safe right now for you to get there. Plus, you’ll be in the way of rescue and recovery efforts.”