North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says people from the mountains to the coast need to be vigilant preparing for Hurricane Irma even as projections have a weakened storm entering the state well inland early next week.

Cooper said at a media briefing Thursday that the system could still affect people across the state — a key reason why he issued an emergency declaration statewide.

The State Emergency Response Team is readying for the storm with rescue teams and staging areas in Kinston, Greensboro and Asheville.

Emergency management director Mike Sprayberry says more than 300 National Guard soldiers are being brought in to help and more are available. On Wednesday, he recommended residents download the ReadyNC app or visit to update their emergency plans and kits.

Nick Petro with the National Weather Service in Raleigh says heavy rain and inland wind damage could result in extended power outages, with possible mudslides in the mountains. He says dangerous surf and rip currents should be anticipated at the coast.

Meanwhile, North Carolina election officials are watching closely the path of Hurricane Irma in case primary elections in the state's largest city and elsewhere have to be delayed next week because of the storm.

State law gives elections board executive director Kim Strach emergency powers to alter an elections schedule because of a natural disaster or extremely inclement weather.

Charlotte holds primary elections for mayor and city council Tuesday. The board says the only other elections being held that day are in Cleveland County and in Murphy.

Charlotte's elections in September 1989 were delayed because of Hurricane Hugo.

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