‘Take steps now’ as ‘major’ hurricane Florence heads toward Carolinas, NC governor says

Florence’s path is still uncertain, but the Carolinas are in the latest path of the storm that restrengthened into a hurricane on Sunday, and North Carolina’s governor is warning people to begin preparing now.

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Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency on Friday. In a news release on Sunday, he warned people to “take steps now” to be ready when the storm arrives.

“Everyone in North Carolina needs to keep a close eye on Florence and take steps now to get ready for impacts later this week,” Cooper said in the release. “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.”

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Florence’s effects already were being felt in the Carolinas in the form of dangerous ocean swells, life-threatening rip currents and rough waves.

Red flags were flying at beaches up and down the Carolinas coast.

In addition to the state of emergency, Cooper “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,” according to the release.

N.C. Emergency Management was working to plan deployment of resources across the state ahead of the storm.

The N.C. Emergency Operations Center was expected to “activate” at 1 p.m. on Monday, according to the governor’s office.

State emergency management is working with counties across North Carolina along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the state’s Emergency Response Team to prepare.

N.C. Department of Transportation crews were busy prepping equipment including “bulldozers, motor graders and chainsaws ... and topping off fuel sites,” according to the release.

“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 in the release. “Our highly trained and experienced team has already been evaluating its resources and preparing to assist the public as needed.”

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is working with county governments and organizations including the American Red Cross and Baptists on a Mission to make certain they have supplies and planned shelters.

“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,” according to the release.

“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 said in the release. “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.”

After 2016’s Hurricane Matthew devastated inland areas of the state, Cooper said people need to be prepared for inland flooding from heavy rain.

“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 in the release.

The governor advised that residents download the Ready NC app and follow state emergency management on Facebook and Twitter for weather updates and tips on how to prepare for the storm.

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