• 84°

North Carolinians urged to stay on guard as hurricane hits state

From Gov. Cooper’s Office:

RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper today urged North Carolinians to stay on guard as Hurricane Florence approaches the state, bringing high winds and the threat of catastrophic and potentially record-breaking rainfall and storm surge.

“My message today: Do not relax, do not get complacent. Stay on guard,” Gov. Cooper said. “This is a powerful storm that can kill. Now is the time to get yourself to a safe place and stay there.”

As the storm approaches, Gov. Cooper urged North Carolinians to follow common-sense tips to stay safe:

Stay indoors during the hurricane
Stay away from windows and glass doors, and keep curtains and blinds closed
Close all interior doors and secure and brace external doors
During fierce winds, take shelter in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level
Never drive through standing or moving water
Follow radio and other reports closely for wind, tornado and flood warnings
Thousands of Evacuees in Shelters

Approximately 7,000 people fleeing the storm have taken shelter at 108 shelters open across the state. State emergency management officials are working to set up even more shelters where people can stay safe through the storm and even after. Other evacuees are sheltering with family and friends or in hotels.

Shelters began opening Tuesday, with more in the process of opening today to take in people displaced by evacuations. Shelter locations are listed at ncdps.gov/florence and, once open, will be listed on the ReadyNC app.

2-1-1 Call Line Open 24/7 for People in Need of Help

The statewide information line can provide callers with nearby shelter, housing and other storm-related details. Dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162, or text Florence to 898211. The information line is staffed around the clock to connect North Carolinians to storm resources.

Impact and Timing of the Storm

The eye of Hurricane Florence is spinning off the coast about 205 miles east-southeast of Wilmington. While wind speeds have dropped slightly making it a Category 2 storm, Florence will still have a devastating impact on North Carolina with torrential rain, historic storm surge and high winds. The storm is expected to make a very slow westward motion near the coast through Saturday. Forecasters emphasize significant impacts could extend well away from the center of Florence.

A deep storm surge as high as 9-to-13 feet will inundate portions of the coast. The surge will affect homes close to tidal creeks and waterways farther inland than normal. Extreme beach erosion with significant loss of dunes and the potential for the creation of new inlets on barrier islands is possible.

Heavy rain will enter the state early Thursday in the southeast and last into the weekend and into early next week across the state. Anywhere from 20-to-30” of rain with isolated totals of 40” will drench the coast. Central, western, and northeastern NC could get 5-to-10” of rain with isolated totals of 20” possible.

“Make no mistake — whether the eye of the storm makes landfall along our shores or farther south, we’re on the wrong side of it. This storm will bring destruction to North Carolina,” Gov. Cooper warned.

Forecasters are predicting the massive storm’s relentless rains have the potential to produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding while also contributing to the potential for landslides across the mountains. Floodwaters may enter tens of thousands of structures, and could make many uninhabitable. The state has been sharing this information with local officials to help them determine when and where to order evacuations.

Tropical storm force winds are already blowing across the coast now with hurricane conditions arriving early Friday. The high winds will likely snap or uproot numerous trees. The storm may also spawn tornadoes

Utility companies are predicting power outages that could reach between one-to-three million across both North and South Carolina for days and possibly weeks.

Resources on Hand to Respond to the Storm

Governor Cooper has activated more than 2,800 National Guard soldiers to preserve life and safety, provide route clearance of roads, and support communications and logistics. North Carolina Emergency Management and FEMA have staged supplies and equipment strategically to respond to the storm, and first responders across the state are ready. Additional emergency personnel from 13 states have arrived in North Carolina to assist with the storm, including swift water rescue teams, emergency medical personnel, and others.

Schools, Universities and State Parks, Museums, and Attractions Closed for Safety

Across North Carolina, more than 56 school districts are closed, and nearly all University of North Carolina system schools cancelled classes.

All NC state parks are already closed or will close today and will remain closed through Sunday. Many state museums and other attractions are also closed. For the full list of closings, visit the DNCR website.

Donations

The Governor’s Office has activated the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund for donations to support North Carolina’s response to Hurricane Florence. To donate, visit www.rebuild.nc.gov/.