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Florence’s wallop threatens Stanly

North Carolinians are bracing for impact as Hurricane Florence barrels toward Wilmington with the Piedmont expected to feel the storm’s wrath.

On Monday Florence had strengthened into a category 4 hurricane. Florence was gaining strength in the warm waters of the Atlantic and expected to make landfall sometime Friday morning. Effects of the storm, however, will be realized earlier.

“The forecast places North Carolina in the bull’s eye of Hurricane Florence, and the storm is rapidly getting stronger,” Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday. “When weather forecasters tell us ‘life threatening,’ we know it’s serious. We are bracing for a hard hit.

“Florence is a threat well beyond the coast, so inland counties need to be ready as well,” he added.

Cooper has already requested from President Donald Trump a federal disaster declaration to ensure North Carolina receives financial aid as soon as possible.

Friday Cooper declared a State of Emergency.

Weather models have Florence striking the Carolina coast as a category 3 hurricane. The hurricane is projected to reach inland areas including Stanly County.

“Regardless of where the storm makes landfall, all residents in Stanly should prepare for this hurricane,” said Brian T. Simpson, director of emergency services. “We will experience a significant and sustained rainfall event with flooding. There may be potential to see flooding in unusual locations. We will experience tropical storm-force winds as early as Wednesday evening. These winds may have the potential to cause widespread and prolonged power outages.”

Simpson said his office had already begun planning for the impact of the hurricane.

He urged county residents to  secure their homes and loose outdoor items, prepare for prolonged power outages by stocking up on food and water, fuel vehicles and keep check on family members, especially the elderly and pets.

“Also remember, do not drive through flooded waters. Do not touch down power lines,” Simpson said.

Likewise, state leaders were scurrying to prepare for the worst. As the forecast becomes clearer, Florence poses three challenges: coastal storm surge, strong winds and inland flooding that inundates rivers and low-lying ground.

North Carolinians are urged to use the next couple of days to get ready for the storm, including reviewing emergency plans and gathering supplies.

Tips for Emergency Plans and Supplies Kit:

• Gather your emergency supply kits with 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 cellphone 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, 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.

Contact Ritchie Starnes at 704-754-5076 or ritchie.starnes@stanlynewspress.com.