Hurricane Florence: Updates from NC Emergency Management

RALEIGH – Well Florence has rapidly strengthened into a Category 4, a major hurricane, on Monday with landfall on the Carolina coast looking likely. Emergency Management officials briefed lawmakers on Monday with the latest. Here are the highlights from the briefing.

“North Carolina remains under a State of Emergency and “24 hour activation” of first responders, state officials.

Hurricane Florence winds have reached 130 m.p.h.

C. Emergency Management is coordinating preparedness and relief efforts with cities, counties, other states and federal agencies.
“We are still thinking it’s going to be very dangerous coastal storm surge of 10 feet or more,” Director Sprayberry said Monday, “with inland flooding from rainfall because we do think the system will stall once it makes landfall with sustained high winds.”

Statewide threat assessments predict significant risks not only to the coast but to inland and Western North Carolina counties, where extensive flooding and landslides caused by torrential rain are a possibility.

Torrential winds and rainfall will make it difficult for rivers in the eastern region to empty in to the ocean, especially from Moorehead City to Southport, N.C. .

The state Emergency Operations Center is activated and 200 National Guard troops are also activated.

Evacuations are already underway in Dare County and may begin soon in other Outer Banks and coastal communities.

Brunswick, Pender, New Hanover, and Onslow counties are all having control group meetings about preparedness and potential evacuation planning today.

Catastrophic winds will threaten not only coastal communities but inland counties as well.

The earliest bands of tropical storm force winds will hit the coast by Wednesday evening, so residents and visitors should be prepared to leave the coast by early afternoon on Wednesday.

Life threatening rip currents and surf are already closing beaches along the North Carolina coast and all visitors and residents should heed

North Carolinians should specifically take action to collect non-perishable food items and water, prepare safety kits, review local emergency and evacuation plans, clear yards of debris, gather and secure important items, download the Ready NC app, monitor state, local and federal agencies, and assist citizens in need, particularly those with limited mobility and resources.
“We are activating and prestaging commodities in Kinston with overhead incident management teams,” Director Sprayberry told lawmakers on Monday.

The state Department of Transportation and the State Highway Patrol are coordinating for potential evacuations to move smoothly.

Swift water and search-and-rescue teams are being activated through the Emergency Management Compact

Aviation units, including eight Blackhawk helicopters and other N.C. National Guard resources are preparing for “hoist operations” to rescue victims and heavy-lift helicopters like Chinooks are also being requested

Food, water and shelter warehouses are being activated and stocked across North Carolina.

FEMA has staged commodities in North Carolina including two urban search and rescue teams.

200 people are preparing at incident support base at Ft. Bragg

Three state medical support center sites activated including Cherry Hospital in Goldbsoro.

Emergency Management is coordinating with hospitals, which typically don’t like to evacuate, to evaluate all options in the coming days.

Centers for Medicaid and Medicare services are providing data sets of at-risk populations to track them and prepare assistance measures.

Energy companies – including electric co-ops and Duke/Progress, are being worked with to monitor power needs.

Widespread power outages are predicted because the storm will not leave North Carolina immediately, it “will be with us at least a few days once it hits.”

Fuel supply is stable and waivers are in place to maximize availability, including for aviation assets.

A request has been approved for nuclear regulatory commission representation at the state Emergency Operations Center as they monitor Brunswick and Harris nuclear plants in path of the storm.

There are currently no unmet communications needs but the statewide interoperability managers are working with locals on communications contingency plans.

High winds are absolutely a threat to tower infrastructure, especially along the coast, to the VIPER public safety communications infrastructure used by state and local public safety officials.

There are no unmet needs for the state Department of Transportation at this time, as evacuation routes are monitored for traffic flow and the Highway Patrol set traffic control points for evacuation planning.

The admiral in charge of east coast for U.S. Coast Guard has set port condition “whiskey” in effect, meaning they are on alert and haven’t made decisions. Ports are expected to close later this week.

The ferry division is monitoring routes and adjusting and cancelling as needed.

The Environmental Protection Agency provided representation to the state Emergency Operations Center to monitor sites like coal ash pits and hog lagoons, as well as nuclear plants.

The Governor’s Executive Order 52 will help move livestock and crops as needed.

Emergency Management is requesting President Trump to extend a federal disaster declaration as soon as possible.

The Emergency Management Division is working to establish a legislative response team at the Emergency Operations Center for rapid response to elected officials.

Director Sprayberry does expect mandatory evacuations along the coastal communities

The state’s evacuation and sheltering plan is under activation so counties in coastal regions have partners in central parts of North Carolina to evacuate to, a program where local governments are reimbursed for the shelters, 75% by the federal government and 25% by the state.

The track of Hurricane Florence has not waivered, it appears by the models that North Carolina will receive the brunt of the storm’s landing between Wilmington and Carteret County later this week.”

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