CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Governor Roy Cooper said Thursday three people have died from the winter storm that hit North Carolina this week.
The governor said two men died Wednesday night in Moore County when their pickup truck slid off a bridge and landed upside down in a creek. A man in Beaufort County died when he drove his truck drove off a private road and overturned.
North Carolina State Highway Patrol officials said authorities responded to more than 1,000 calls for service since the winter weather began on Wednesday. 700 of those calls were traffic related.
As of noon Thursday, about 5,000 homes and businesses were still without power, mostly in Currituck, Dare, Harnett, Pamlico, Rockingham and Wake Counties. Power outages peaked at 20,000.
Cooper declared a state of emergency for parts of North Carolina earlier this week and activated the emergency operations center ahead of the blast of winter weather.
Cooper announced Wednesday that resources were being shifted from the western part of the state to the eastern part where ice, snow, and bitter cold temperatures were expected to make travel treacherous and power outages possible.
"We expect that travel will be difficult and dangerous," Cooper said.
Cooper said the Department of Transportation, Highway Patrol, the National Guard and Emergency Management would work in tandem so they could respond appropriately.
The governor encouraged drivers in the Piedmont to stay off of the roads as much as possible Wednesday night to give Highway Patrol, DOT and emergency responders the space to monitor issues and react quickly.
"Remember that unnecessary travel not only puts you at risk but also can potentially put emergency responders and law enforcement at risk who have to respond to help you," Cooper said.
Cooper said drivers should expect potentially dangerous conditions for several days due to the extreme cold. Roads that have light snow or ice may re-freeze several times in the next few days, he warned.
DOT had 800 employees on the roads performing anti-icing operations and spraying in preparation.
In Mecklenburg County, there were 10 contract trucks putting brine on the interstates Wednesday morning. That number grew to 20 trucks in the afternoon. DOT also had seven trucks prepping primary roads like N.C. 51, 49, South Boulevard and Tryon Street.
DOT spokesperson Jen Thompson said they were in standby mode starting Wednesday night and would respond as conditions required.