Governor Pat McCrory detailed the ongoing life-threatening dangers caused by Hurricane Matthew as record flooding continues to impact inland communities. The governor said that more than 1,400 people have been saved by swift water rescue teams and many more are expected throughout the day.
“Blue skies have returned to North Carolina, but dangerous conditions remain,” said Governor McCrory. “As we have learned from previous hurricanes, the aftermath of the storm is often the deadliest. People who live near rivers, streams and levees must take extreme caution as the greatest threat to human life is rivers flooding in the coming days. Listen to your local officials and take all evacuation orders seriously.”
Floodwaters rapidly rose overnight in Lumberton, stranding nearly 1,500 residents. Helicopters, boats and swift water rescue teams were deployed to the area to get people to safety, including teams from FEMA and other states.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary flight restriction over the Lumberton area, so that all aviation activity can focus on the rescues. Drones are prohibited in flooded areas because of their potential to obstruct rescue operations.
More than 600 North Carolina National Guard troops and nearly 200 high water and rescue vehicles have been activated. The U.S. Coast Guard continues to assist with rescues. The National Guard, State Highway Patrol and U.S. Coast Guard have increased aviation assets and completed more than 26 air rescues.
The greatest threat remains inland flooding that will continue into this week in central and eastern North Carolina. Residents near rivers, streams and levees need to be extremely careful as flooding is expected throughout the coming week.
Central and eastern North Carolina have major additional flooding predicted for towns and cities along the: Lumber, Cape Fear, Neuse, and Tar rivers, along with many other rivers and creeks. State officials are monitoring a number of overtopped or breaching dams in central and eastern counties.
There have been 10 confirmed weather-related fatalities and five people reported missing. The most recent fatality occurred around 8 p.m. Sunday night in Johnston County when a driver drove into floodwaters.
Governor McCrory warned motorists never to drive through standing water on roads and highways, and not to drive through temporary barriers or barricades.
“I cannot emphasize this enough, if you see a flooded road, turn around, do not drive through it,” said Govenror McCrory. "Not only are you making this life-threatening decision for yourself, you are making it for rescue personnel who will be called upon to save your life.”
Numerous major interstates and roads, as well as hundreds of secondary roads remain closed. Among the major roads that are impacted include:
- Parts of I-95 closed in multiple locations due to flooding… from Four Oaks south through Fayetteville and Lumberton
- I-40 in several locations in Johnston County in and around Benson as well as in both directions near Exit 355 in Sampson County
- Parts of US-70 in both directions in Wayne and Lenior Counties (east and west of Goldsboro)
- Parts of NC Highway 12 in Dare County remain impassable due to sand and high water on the roadway.
The latest updates on road closures can be found at ReadyNC.org, the ReadyNC mobile app or by calling 5-1-1.
The rains also filled many lakes and ponds to the brim. State and local officials responded to about 11 reports Saturday of dams overtopping. The National Weather Service is forecasting major river flooding across eastern North Carolina through early to mid-week, with potential record levels along the Neuse River. The rainfall and high winds led to many power outages across the state.
Power outages across the state continue to fall. As of 10:30 a.m., power outages totaled more than 465,000 statewide, down from more than 800,000 on Sunday. Utilities are continuing to work around the clock to respond to power outages in affected areas.
More than 60 emergency shelters remain open in central and eastern North Carolina and are currently housing more than 2,800 people. For those needing information, including nearby shelter, housing, and other storm-related details, call 2-1-1.
The American Red Cross is in desperate need for volunteers. They have opened a volunteer intake center in Fayetteville at the Kiwanis Recreation Center at 352 Devers Street.
Local officials have issued several mandatory evacuations in:
- Kinston—mandatory evacuation for all residents in Neuse River Basin
- Greenville—began a mandatory evacuation on Sunday
- Dare County—imposed curfew on Sunday and only property owners and vehicles allowed in
- Halifax County—imposed curfew on Sunday
- Princeville—mandatory evacuation due to potential flooding and 7 p.m. curfew set on Sunday
The governor warned of the continued environmental dangers of the standing floodwaters, and asked residents in affected areas not to cross through or swim through flooded waters. This is especially crucial in areas where floodwaters have crossed agricultural areas, which have been hit particularly hard by this storm. Those in affected farmlands who require assistance can call the Agriculture Disaster Hotline at 1-866-645-9403.
Governor McCrory emphasized that the state is better prepared than ever to handle the financial implications of the storm. Under the governor’s leadership, North Carolina has tripled the balance in the state’s Rainy Day Fund to an all-time-high balance of $1.6 billion. The governor mentioned that additional federal financial assistance is also expected.
“What we feared is now happening in North Carolina,” said Governor McCrory. “The immediate concern from Hurricane Matthew is life threatening rain accumulation that has the potential for North Carolina to see the worst flooding since Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Our resources are in place and we are ready to respond. Be prepared, be careful and be safe.”
Forecasts show Hurricane Matthew will have the greatest impact in North Carolina starting early Saturday morning with heavy rainfall, storm surge and winds across eastern and central portions of the state.
As much as 15 inches of rainfall are expected in areas of southeastern North Carolina near Wilmington. Rainfall totals for southeastern inland locations around the I-95 Corridor could see up to 10 inches of rain. Governor McCrory stated that this is especially concerning for the Fayetteville region, which recently experienced severe flooding. Northeastern sections of the state could see 5 to 10 inches of rain further exacerbating recent flooding in Bertie County and surrounding areas.
The strongest winds are expected beginning Saturday through Sunday afternoon, with sustained winds across southeastern North Carolina of 50 to 60 miles per hour and gusts close to the coast up to 85 miles per hour. Governor McCrory warned that winds coupled with wet ground will result in widespread downed trees and power outages.
Storm surge south of the Cape Fear area is forecast to be between 4 and 6 feet, and from Cape Fear to Salvo is expected to be between 2 and 4 feet. Officials say Matthew will also bring with it significant beach erosion and overwash in coastal communities.
A Hurricane Watch has been declared from Surf City to Cape Lookout, and Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect from Surf City to Duck, including Pamlico and Albemarle sounds.
Mandatory evacuations have been issued for visitors to Ocracoke. Voluntary evacuations have been issued in:
- Pender County’s low-lying areas, including Topsail beach and Surf City
- Cumberland County’s low-lying and flood-prone areas
- Brunswick County towns of Bald Head Island, Caswell Beach, Oak Island, Holden Beach, Ocean Isle, Sunset Beach, Boiling Springs Lakes, Calabash, Carolina Shores, Shallotte, Southport and Saint James
- Ocracoke for residents
- All New Hanover County beaches, and areas around New Centre Drive, Racine Drive and Edgewater Club Road.
Emergency shelters have opened in the following areas:
- Brunswick County - North Brunswick High School, South Brunswick High School and West Brunswick High School
- Bertie County also opened the Bertie County High School as a shelter
- Columbus County officials have opened shelters at West Columbus High School, South Columbus High School, East Columbus High School and Edgewood Elementary School
Shelters are on standby to open if necessary in Onslow, Wilson, Johnston and Lee counties. Other county officials are considering opening shelters.
Governor McCrory’s request for a disaster declaration by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was accepted today for 66 North Carolina counties where the storm is forecast to have the greatest impacts. The declaration expedites federal assistance for emergency protective measures.
The governor on Friday urged caution along the Outer Banks as state transportation officials are expecting the storm to impact N.C. Hwy 12 on the north end of Ocracoke Island and Hatteras. N.C. Department of Transportation officials have staged equipment at those locations as well as Buxton, Pea Island and Kitty Hawk.
The state’s Ferry Division has already suspended operations between Ocracoke Island and the mainland and anticipates suspending operations on the Ocracoke-Hatteras route Saturday morning.
All state parks east of I-95 are now closed and will remain so until at least Sunday, the governor said.
Governor McCrory emphasized that state emergency response officials are prepared to respond. The State Highway Patrol has placed all essential personnel on standby and is ready for deployment at a moment’s notice based on the storm’s track. Additional state troopers have been sent to Wilmington and Raleigh and additional troopers are on call across the state. The North Carolina National Guard has deployed nearly 180 troops and 68 high water vehicles.
Swift Water Rescue teams have been deployed to Bladen, Craven, Martin, Brunswick, Pamlico, Camden and Pasquotank counties.
Additionally, three Helo-Aquatic Rescue Teams are staged in western North Carolina. Chainsaw crews are now in Jones, Camden, Pasquotank, and Moore counties and at regional coordination centers. North Carolina Wildlife boat teams have deployed to Williamston, New Bern and Elizabethtown. Generators, sandbags, cots, bottled water and tarps have been sent to eastern counties and generators sent to central counties.
Governor McCrory said North Carolina has also deployed resources to help neighboring states to the south. North Carolina has sent two Swift Water Rescue teams and one Helo-Aquatic Rescue Team to South Carolina. At the request of Florida Governor Rick Scott, North Carolina has also deployed a mobile disaster hospital, as well as medical evacuation buses and teams to assist with relief efforts.
Governor Pat McCrory has declared a State of Emergency for all 100 counties in order to provide the necessary assistance to eastern North Carolina and surrounding states as Hurricane Matthew approaches.
The storm has shifted slightly northward and is now expected to bring heavier bands of wind and rain further north Saturday as it approaches North Carolina.
The governor said state emergency crews are ready to respond quickly. Swift water rescue teams and North Carolina National Guard resources are already staged in the areas of eastern North Carolina where they will likely be needed the most: Williamston, New Bern, Elizabethtown, Laurinburg and Sanford. High water vehicles are staged in New Hanover and Brunswick counties and other high water vehicles are being held as reserves in case they are needed. Three Helo-Aquatic Rescue Teams are also being activated for deployment this weekend across North Carolina.
Impacts from the storm are expected to be greatest between early Saturday into Sunday morning. During the next three days, the storm is predicted to dump as much as 15 inches of rain on southeastern North Carolina and between 5 and 10 inches of rain in eastern North Carolina, and 2-5 inches in central parts of the state.
"Today I am encouraging local officials to make calls for evacuation very quickly and am asking all citizens and visitors to follow those directions and take this storm seriously," said Governor McCrory.
The storm is expected to pack sustained winds of 40-55 mph in southeastern North Carolina with gusts up to 70 mph, and sustained winds of between 20 mph and 45 mph in other areas of eastern North Carolina. The governor said heavy rain and winds from the storm could knock down trees, create significant flooding and heavy storm surge in coastal areas, and bring widespread power outages.
The governor said he has spoken with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Rick Scott and is assessing what support can be offered to assist their states. North Carolina is sending a Helo-Aquatic rescue technician and UH60 crews to South Carolina and is assessing what support can be sent to Florida.
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The governor previously declared a state of emergency on Monday for 66 eastern and central counties.
Governor McCrory and NC State Emergency Management provided an update on the sate's preparation for Hurricane Matthew Thursday morning and afternoon.
McCrory said we are not going to get hit by the eye of the storm unless there is a major change.
“I am cautiously optimistic about Hurricane Matthew’s projected impacts on North Carolina compared to where we were a few days ago,” said Governor McCrory. “But there remains much uncertainty about the long-term storm track. Even if Matthew doesn’t make landfall in our state, this is a very large and powerful storm and we expect its impacts to be felt far away from the eye.”
Current forecasts call for winds of 60-70 miles per hour, with some higher gusts possible, along the southeast coast beginning sometime late Saturday morning. The Piedmont and northern Coastal Plain will see breezy conditions with gusts to 35 miles per hour.
Heavy rainfall of eight to 10 inches is expected in southeastern counties with one to three inches of rain expected along the I-95 corridor. The northeastern counties can expect to see one to two inches of rain offering them a potential respite from the recent heavy flooding.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” McCrory said. “I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for all North Carolinians and visitors to be sure they are prepared and continue to monitor this storm. Review your emergency plans with your family and update or restock supplies in your emergency kits”
"Be safe, be prepared and we will continue to give updates," McCrory said.
McCrory is urging North Carolinians throughout the central and eastern part of the state to gather emergency supplies and discuss emergency plans to prepare for Hurricane Matthew.
The latest forecast calls for the expansion of Hurricane Matthew further up the southeast along the Atlantic seacoast from Florida into Georgia before making landfall near the North and South Carolina border early Saturday morning.
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“With each subsequent forecast, the impacts to our state appear to be more substantial,” cautioned Governor McCrory in a written statement, released on Tuesday. “I cannot stress enough how critical it is that all of our residents in central and eastern North Carolina begin preparations for their families and homes. For those residents in the eastern parts of the state, it is especially critical that you update your emergency supply kits in case you need to evacuate and always follow the directions of your local emergency officials.”
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Currently a Category 4 hurricane, Matthew made landfall along eastern Cuba Tuesday morning and is predicted to move northwest through the Bahamas and along Florida’s Atlantic coast during the next few days. From there, the large and powerful storm is expected to shift toward the northeast, hugging the Georgia and South Carolina coast before making landfall in North Carolina sometime Saturday.
While the storm is a still a few days away, the major hurricane continues to shift westward, increasing the potential for significant impacts to the state. Emergency officials are preparing for 4 to 8 more inches of rain over the weekend across eastern and central North Carolina along with heavy winds of up to 73 miles per hour beginning Friday.
On Monday, Governor McCrory declared a State of Emergency for 66 eastern and central North Carolina counties to expedite the movement and activation of any resources to help with storm response. He also waived restrictions for truckers on hours of service and weight limits to help farmers harvest their crops, quickly restore power and expedite any debris removal.
The North Carolina Emergency Operations Center (EOC) activated on Monday with staffing support from key state agencies as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The EOC will begin 24-hour operations Thursday morning with additional personnel. State emergency managers and FEMA representatives are coordinating with North Carolina counties and neighboring states on sheltering and evacuation plans should they be needed.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol is also preparing its troopers and equipment. Troopers will be monitoring all major highways and will be assisting the Department of Transportation, county Emergency Management officials and local partners.
Additionally, the Department of Transportation continues to monitor conditions and prepare equipment and crews to respond to Hurricane Matthew. The Department is pre-positioning equipment and personnel along the coast and preparing ferry operations to expedite the transportation of residents and visitors off Ocracoke Island and the Outer Banks.
Governor McCrory urges residents to take the following steps to prepare for the storm:
1. Determine if you are in a storm surge zone:
Residents living in storm surge zones may be ordered to evacuate. Evacuation zones will be identified by local emergency managers through the news media. You also should know if your home is located in a flood plain. These areas suffer from heavy rains associated with hurricanes. Visit ncfloodmaps.com to determine if you are in a flood zone.
2. Gather supplies and prepare an emergency kit:
To prepare for a hurricane or any disaster, it is best to have an emergency kit available. This kit should contain nonperishable food, water (one gallon/person/day) and clothing to sustain each family member for three to seven days. The kit should include a flashlight, radio and spare batteries. Blankets, rain gear and appropriate footwear also are recommended. Special considerations must be made for the young or disabled. Remember to include baby food and medicines as appropriate. In addition, the kit should include photo copies of important family documents, such as birth certificates and insurance policies. A complete checklist of items for your emergency kit can be found here.
3. Fuel cars, obtain cash and secure important documents:
Residents should fill their cars with gasoline and have enough cash on hand to last a week in case they are ordered to evacuate. During power-outages, gas stations and ATM machines do not work. It is also important to secure original copies of documents in a waterproof container in case of flooding.
4. Obtain supplies to protect the home:
If residents are ordered to evacuate, there will be little time to protect their homes from the storm. Supplies, such as lumber and shutters, should be purchased now, and window casing pre-drilled. Homeowners should clear their property of all debris that could damage buildings in strong winds. Cars should be stored in the garage.