Virginia officials are urging residents under a mandatory evacuation order not to return home, despite forecast changes showing Hurricane Florence's short-term path largely missing the state.
Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday that the storm's path is still unpredictable and residents who were ordered to evacuate beginning Tuesday should continue to stay away. The evacuation order applies to about 245,000 people in low-lying coastal areas.
"If you are already out of harm's way, please stay there," Northam said during a news conference Wednesday evening.
Northam said emergency management officials are still concerned about storm surges, high winds and potential flooding. The coordinator of the state's Department of Emergency Management said officials were also concerned about evacuees getting stuck on the road trying to return home if the storm takes a turn for the worse.
Officials said 59 local shelters and two state-managed shelters are either open or about to open across Virginia.
Northam also noted the potential for flooding rain late in the weekend and early next week in western Virginia when the remnants of Florence move northward.
Northam said he spoke to the governors of North Carolina and South Carolina. He said he would gladly send Virginia resources south if they are not needed in the Commonwealth.
The state coordinator of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Dr. Jeff Stern, said several urban search and rescue teams and swiftwater rescue teams from other states have been assigned to Virginia.