North Carolina Readies for Florence as Storm Strengthens

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With the latest forecast showing Florence likely to grow in strength and threaten the East Coast, Governor Cooper has urged all North Carolina residents, businesses, and visitors to prepare for the storm.

The latest forecast from National Hurricane Center shows Florence becoming a major hurricane by early in the week and tracking toward the southeastern United States by later in the week.

“Everyone in North Carolina needs to keep a close eye on Florence and take steps now to get ready for impacts later this week,” Gov. Cooper said. “State emergency management, transportation, health experts and others are making sure North Carolina is prepared for the storm, and I urge the public to review your emergency plans and gather your supplies now.”

Florence is already being felt along the North Carolina coast, with large sea swells resulting in life threatening rip currents and surf. Beachgoers are urged to heed warnings from local officials and lifeguards. The potential for heavy inland rains and flooding means the entire state must be on alert, Cooper said.

Throughout the week, state officials are readying for potential impacts from a major hurricane:

  • North Carolina remains under a State of Emergency, declared by Gov. Cooper last Friday. The governor also temporarily waived certain restrictions for trucks and heavy vehicles to help farmers harvest and move crops and livestock ahead of the storm and help utilities and other equipment be ready to respond if needed.
  • North Carolina Emergency Management experts are working to determine where to place resources ahead of the storm. The State Emergency Operations Center is now activated, and NCEM is coordinating with the counties, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and key partners in the State Emergency Response Team which includes all state agencies plus utility representatives, private sector partners and volunteer agencies active during disasters. State EM Director Mike Sprayberry yesterday spoke with FEMA Administrator Brock Long about preparations for the storm, and NCEM is in frequent contact with the National Hurricane Center forecasters.
  • NC Department of Transportation employees are readying hurricane response equipment, such as bulldozers, motor graders and chainsaws, to ensure it is in good working order and topping off fuel sites. Employees also are contacting local contractors and equipment providers to make sure resources are available to assist if needed.
  • NC Department of Health and Human Services experts are reaching out to all 100 county Social Services offices to make sure they have reviewed their emergency preparedness plans, developed staffing schedules, and pulled together supplies in the event shelters are needed. DHHS is also working with American Red Cross, NC Baptists on Mission and other groups to make sure sheltering and feeding needs can be met, and public health experts will be reaching out to at-risk North Carolinians with critical health challenges to help them prepare for the storm.
  • North Carolina’s state parks, historic sites, museums and aquariums are monitoring Florence’s potential track and performing necessary storm preparations, including securing the grounds, confirming generators are operable, fueling vehicles, and ensuring sufficient supplies are on hand to care for aquarium animals. State parks rangers and staff are on standby to lend support where needed for storm response.
  • NC Department of Environmental Quality is mobilizing to support the State Emergency Operations Center with experts that can rapidly respond to any air and water quality concerns.

State public safety officials emphasized North Carolina’s readiness for the storm.

“The State Emergency Response Team, which includes Emergency Management, the State Highway Patrol and the NC National Guard, is closely monitoring the storm and stands ready to deploy,” Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks said. “Our highly trained and experienced team has already been evaluating its resources and preparing to assist the public as needed.”

“We are getting updates from the National Hurricane Center and FEMA as well as our other partners and drawing on everyone’s experience to plan and prepare to respond to any need,” state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry stated. “We are also staying in close contact with county and SERT partners to ensure all resource requests are met. We ask the public to stay tuned to your local forecast and listen to your local emergency officials. Make sure you have a plan for yourself and your family members, to include your pets.”

North Carolina’s experience with inland hurricane damage such as river flooding and power outages during Hurricane Matthew in 2016 shows that hurricanes damage can go beyond coastal impacts, Cooper said.

“Experience has shown us that storms and heavy wind and rain can affect the entire state, so we must all be alert and ready,” he said.

Tips for Emergency Plans and Supplies Kit:

  • Be sure your emergency supply kits have enough bottled water and non-perishable food to sustain each family member for three to seven days. Include a weather radio, flashlight, extra batteries, toiletries, change of clothes, blankets or sleeping bag, rain gear and appropriate footwear. Also include cell phone charger, prescription medicines, copies of important documents, such as birth certificates and insurance policies.
  • Know your evacuation route, and find out where friends and loved ones will be and how to get in touch with them.
  • Plan for your pets. Gather supplies for your pets and put them in an easily-accessible container.
  • Prepare your home. Clean out gutters and clear property of debris that could damage buildings in strong winds.
  • Stay tuned to local news for the latest advisories from the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center (NHC), as well as state and local emergency management officials.

Download the Ready NC app or follow NC Emergency Management on Facebook and Twitter for weather updates and to learn how you can prepare for the storm.