Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency for all 100 counties in the state in preparation of “almost certain impacts from Hurricane Irma early next week.”
The latest forecasts show Hurricane Irma making landfall in Florida early Sunday morning as a Category 4 storm before heading out into the Atlantic briefly and re-entering the U.S. in South Carolina before coming into North Carolina near Charlotte as a tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane.
The forecasted path of the hurricane, however, has progressively shifted eastward leaving the possibility that the hurricane could kiss off of Florida, or even miss the state directly, and maintain more strength as it impacts the Carolinas.
“There is a lot we still don’t know about this storm, but we do know that North Carolina can expect to feel some sort of effects as soon as early next week, and now is the time to get prepared,” Gov. Cooper said. “Wherever you live in North Carolina – from the mountains to the piedmont to the coast – you need to take this storm seriously, and you need to start preparing for some type of impact.”
The state of emergency went into effect at 8 a.m. Thursday morning, days ahead of the storm in order to facilitate the movement of any resources that may be needed to respond to the storm.
The order also waives truck weight, size and hours of service restrictions so that vehicles carrying essential supplies such as food, medicine, fuel or transporting livestock or crops can move their cargo quickly where it needs to go.
According to the release, while much uncertainty still exists about Hurricane Irma’s storm track, meteorologists are predicting that portions of the state could experience wind and rain from the tropical system as early as Monday.
Paired with recent heavy rainfall saturating the ground across the state even relatively minor storm effects from the hurricane could result in loss of trees and power across the state.
“Our emergency response teams are seasoned and ready. They have been tested repeatedly over the past year and our colleagues are ready to respond as called,” Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks said. “But we cannot weather this storm alone. This is a tremendous storm. We need residents and visitors to ensure they are ready: check your emergency plans, restock your emergency kits, and pay close attention in the coming days to the weather forecast.”
The state’s Emergency Management team began coordinating storm preparations over the Labor Day weekend with county partners, state agencies and South Carolina, Virginia and officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). They have requested a FEMA incident management team to expedite any federal assets that may be needed to respond to the storm.
State transportation officials also have placed crews on standby and have begun preparing their equipment and checking culverts to remove debris that may clog drainage pipes to better handle the run off from the massive amounts of rainfall that may come to the state.
Following Hurricane Harvey the state sent search and rescue personnel to Texas to aid in the search for survivors, which will now be returned to the state in advance of Hurricane Irma, as well as those who were sent to assist with the evacuation of southern Florida in advance of Hurricane Irma hitting there, the governor said.
To ensure your family is storm ready:
- Get your emergency kit ready. Be sure your emergency supplies kit has 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 copies of important documents, such as birth certificates and insurance policies.
- Plan for your pets. Gather supplies for your pet 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. Supplies needed to secure your home, such as lumber and shutters, should be purchased now, and window casings pre-drilled.
- Find out your flood risk. Determine if you are in a flood plain or flood-prone area.
- Learn evacuation routes for your area. Listen to local officials and evacuate as instructed.
- Keep up with weather advisories. 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.