By Nathan Ham
As prediction models for Hurricane Florence come together, the latest update courtesy of Ray’s Weather Center on Tuesday morning has rain and wind from the storm making its impact starting late Saturday night and into Sunday morning.
Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall Thursday night or early Friday morning in an area north of Wilmington. According to the forecast, the Category 4 hurricane is expected to stall over the eastern part of the state, leaving dryer conditions in the High Country through Friday and Saturday before rain finally reaches the mountains heading into early Sunday morning.
Rainfall predictions across the state vary, but some forecasts believe some areas in the eastern portion of the state could receive up to two feet of rain between Thursday and Monday, which will lead to devastating inland and coastal flooding. The latest forecasts from North Carolina Emergency Management on Tuesday suggests storm surge totals from 3-8 feet in the Northern Outer Banks area and 4-12 feet in the Cape Fear/Cape Lookout areas. Inland ran forecasts range from 15-20 inches in eastern parts of the state including Raleigh and Durham. Central parts of the state could also see as much as 6-15 inches of rain. Rain forecasts for the High Country range from 3-5 inches according to Tuesday’s update.
As of Tuesday morning, there has been no change with Appalachian State’s home opener against Southern Miss this Saturday afternoon. Several high school football games across the state have rescheduled the games to earlier in the week or postponed them. Avery County is one of those schools. The Vikings will play Draughn in Newland at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. The junior varsity game scheduled for Thursday has been cancelled.
Mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders have been issued for 11 counties on the coast. Mandatory evacuations are in affect for all of Beaufort County, Brunswich County (Oak Island and Holden Beach visitors), Carteret County (Atlantic Beach, Indian Beach, Emerald Isle, Pine Knoll Shores), Currituck County (all Outer Banks visitors), all of Dare County, Hyde County (Ocracoke Island, New Hanover County (Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach), Onslow County (Topsail Beach), all of Pamlico County and all of Tyrrell County. Voluntary evacuation orders are in effect for Bertie County, Leland, Navassa, Holden Beach and Oak Island permanent residents, non-beach areas of New Hanover County and Surf City in Onslow County.
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the entire North Carolina coastline and as far inland as Lumberton, Greenville and Goldsboro. A Tropical Storm Watch is currently in effect for areas around Fayetteville and Rocky Mount.
“We face three critical threats from Florence: ocean surge along our coast, strong winds, and inland flooding from heavy rain,” Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement on Monday. “Wherever you live in North Carolina, you need to get ready for this storm now and you need to evacuate if asked to.”
With the storm getting closer and closer to the Carolinas, price-gouging laws are now in effect across the state.
“My office is here to protect North Carolinians from scams and frauds,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “That is true all the time – but especially during severe weather. It is against the law to charge an excessive price during a state of emergency. If you see a business taking advantage of this storm, please let my office know so we can hold them accountable.”
North Carolina has a strong statute against price gouging – charging too much during a time of crisis – that is tied directly to a declaration of a state of emergency. When Governor Cooper declared a state of emergency for North Carolina on Friday, September 7, the statute went into effect for the entire state and will remain so until the state of emergency is lifted.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed an emergency declaration or North Carolina.
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.
As with any storm system, forecasts and conditions can change rapidly. Continue to check back with Ray’s Weather Center for possible storm impacts on the High Country. For other parts of the state, North Carolina Emergency Management will continue to provide storm updates, forecasts, evacuation orders and other important information.