More than 1 million residents had already lost power by Sunday morning, and it could be days before officials can provide food and water to those struggling in the aftermath of the powerful storm.
"And when I finally left and got on the interstate, there were so many cars", Lawson said.
"This thing is a monster", he added.
"This is going to be a very, very lengthy restoration, arguably the most lengthy restoration and most complex in USA history", he said, asking that customers be patient.
"What we really fear more than anything is that storm surge", Buckhorn told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Sunday.
As of 12:30 p.m. the state's largest utility, Georgia Power, has more than 3,535 outages affecting about 389,000 customers, including more than 50,000 in the midstate.
On Sunday, Trump also issued a disaster declaration for the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, and expanded federal funds available to the U.S. Virgin Islands in the aftermath of Irma, the White House said.
Irma will slow even further and will likely become a tropical depression as it reaches eastern Alabama, he said. Irma was downgraded to a category 3 hurricane on Saturday after crossing over Cuba.
The storm, already blamed for at least 20 deaths on Caribbean Islands like Antigua, is churning with winds of 150 miles per hour and is expected to hit the Florida Keys Saturday night and the rest of Florida, including Miami, on Sunday.
Over two dozen people are reported to have died since the storm crossed the Caribbean towards the US.
Stacey and her family evacuated their Cape Coral home inland with 11 other people, including four kids, four dogs and a hamster.
Irma is still forecast to move away from North Carolina. For now, have a plan just in case power goes out Monday due to strong winds. After Monday morning, there won't be another night with crisp lows in the 50s for at least a week.
A high wind warning is in effect in parts of North Carolina from Shelby west toward Andrews.
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