With the latest forecast showing Florence likely to grow in strength as it threatens the East Coast, Gov. Roy Cooper urged all North Carolina residents, businesses and visitors to prepare for the storm. The latest forecast from National Hurricane Center on Wednesday, shows Florence downgraded to a Category 3 but is expected to go back to a Category 4 by Thursday morning. As of Wednesday, the storm was about 400 miles southeast of Wilmington.
“Everyone in North Carolina needs to keep a close eye on Florence and take steps now to get ready for impacts,” 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 weekend, state officials were readying for potential impacts from a major hurricane:
• North Carolina remains under a State of Emergency, declared by Gov. Cooper Friday. The governor has 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 activated Monday 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 has spoken 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.”
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.
NC Congressional Delegation Requests Approval of Hurricane Florence Emergency Declaration
North Carolina’s entire Congressional delegation, led by Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, sent a letter Monday, Sept. 10, to President Trump requesting that the administration approve Governor Roy Cooper’s Emergency Declaration in advance of Hurricane Florence’s landfall.
“Hurricane Florence poses an imminent and dangerous threat to North Carolina, and its approach necessitates the state to once again activate the State Emergency Response Team and numerous other state resources,” the members wrote. “An Emergency Declaration will provide the needed assistance to the state and local communities to allow them to properly prepare for the effects of Hurricane Florence. We respectfully request you approve this declaration and enable North Carolina to prepare for the potential disaster, consistent with the intended purposes of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Stafford Act.”
President Donald J. Trump Signs Emergency Declaration for North Carolina
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal emergency aid has been made available to the state of North Carolina to supplement state, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions in the area affected by Hurricane Florence beginning on September 7, and continuing.
The President’s action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.
Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.
Albert Lewis has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal response operations in the affected area. Lewis said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
FEDERAL AID PROGRAMS FOR THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Donald J. Trump’s emergency disaster declaration issued for the state of North Carolina and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.
Assistance for the State, Tribe, and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:
•FEMA is authorized to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the designated areas.
•Specifically, FEMA is authorized to provide emergency protective measures (Category B), limited to direct federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program at 75 percent federal funding.