Transportation Secretary Trogdon says flooding expected to stretch from the coast to Mecklenburg and surrounding counties
Raleigh, N.C. – Legislative leaders received a briefing on Hurricane Florence’s landfall from representatives of the state Emergency Management Division, Secretary Jim Trogdon of the state Department of Transportation and Secretary Mandy Cohen of the state Department of Health and Human Services at 2:30 p.m. on Friday.
The office of Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) compiled and released details of the conference call update to members of the press and public.
Representatives of the Emergency Management Division said lawmakers continue to work with the administration through direct lines of communication with the state Emergency Operations Center, are cooperating with agency officials and advocating for the needs of their region through regular briefings and dedicated email addresses.
The planning posture at the state Emergency Operations Center remains the same in responding to the direct landfall of a Category 1-2 Hurricane and preparing for its impact post-landfall.
Approximately 615,000 power outages are currently reported and that number is rising rapidly. Duke Energy s estimating 1-3 million will be without power statewide as the event progresses. Duke has surged significant resources into the state to restore critical power as soon as possible.
Currently there are approximately 157 shelters open that state officials are aware of but local jurisdictions are continuing to open centers to meet needs of local constituents.
Approximately 20,000 people are in shelters statewide and expected to continue to rise. The state has set up 3 medical support shelters with at least 150 patients and those numbers are rising. Additional sites are being scouted for medical support centers as facilities go without power and more homes lose power.
There are some 911 center communications impacted in the affected service areas, but all have fallback contingency plans and some have initiated those. Largely the 911 community has experienced a slight degradation of services but are still available statewide.
The hospitals in the impacted are stable and have 12-14 days of supplies. State-level partners with DHHS, and federal partners are helping hospitals stage forward commodities if needed, but healthcare infrastructure is stable.
From a resource standpoint, shelter support for the general population and medical supplies are the focus of DHHS for weeks to come.
Emergency responders continue to maintain aviation assets for search and rescue components. Commodities like cots, blankets, personal hygiene kits, food and water being surged to shelters and transport for folks who can’t get out of affected area.
Secretary Jim Trogon of the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) said he has been getting reports all evening and this morning that the heaviest reported damage is concentrated in Pamlico and Craven counties and some in Beaufort County as well.
In Pamlico, almost all primary roads at this time are flooded with significant impact to secondary roads Assessments are limited because hurricane force winds continue. There are also reports in those counties of about 40 secondary roads flooded due to high water. All of that is due to storm surge.
NCDOT anticipates as the rain continues over the next few days those numbers will significantly increase, Trogdon said. No detailed reports were yet available out of Onslow, New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties, they’re in contact, but conditions remain too hazardous to survey damages. Lots of reports of trees down in the region but locations are difficult to acquire.
The state maintains two warehouse caches of the primary commodities. An incident support base in Ft. Bragg also has a significant amount of resources.
Officials anticipate winds will die down in southeastern counties over the next 12 to 24 hours so they can get detailed assessments and teams clearing debris from roads as rapidly as possible. The initial storm surge is not expected to linger but it will be followed by river flooding events. T
NCDOT officials anticipate based on rainfall significant river overruns from Pungo, Tar, Pamlico, Neuse, Cape Fear, and Lumber Rivers, progressing all the way by early next week into Mecklenburg County.
Significant flooding from Wilmington to Mecklenburg county is expected including much of the area south of Fayetteville. They’ll be working hard in the next few days to clear debris from US routes and interstates as well as North Carolina highways and secondary roads with a “cut-and-shove” approach to moving debris to roadsides then picking it up from major routes later.
The flooding models described by Trogdon, based on rainfalls anticipated, show flooding as far west as Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln, and Mecklenburg County. The rain expected over the next 3-5 days will produce a historic flooding event.
Secretary Cohen said the Department of Health and Human Services moved out of preparation mode and into activating public health messages, stressing the importance to not walk or drive through standing or moving water. Massive and historic levels of flooding will put folks at risk of losing life from that. They’re also focused on informing citizens not use gas powered generators or grills inside due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Health care officials continue to work with facilities like long term care and dialysis centers by monitoring their needs and preparing to move patients to shelters ahead of storm. They are keeping track of hospitals using generators and monitoring them for support and fuel needs.
About a dozen long term care facilities are already using generators. Three medical centers – in High Point, Goldsboro, Clayton – are operational. The centers in high Point and Goldsboro are full, but significant availability remains in the Clayton center with over 70 beds as of this morning.
Hurricane Florence is just inland near Cape Fear, NC. Maximum sustained winds are down to 80 mph due to land interaction. The storm is currently drifting southwestward but it is expected to resume a slow west-southwestward motion this afternoon and tonight then continue westward across SC this weekend. No change to the forecast or the expected impacts to the Carolinas Service Area.
Widespread flash flooding and river overruns were predicted across coastal and eastern North Carolina with a potential for waterspouts and tornadoes during and following Florence’s landfall.
Life-threatening storm surges have reached the coast and hurricane force wind bands are spreading into eastern North Carolina. Heavy saturation of the ground and high-speed winds will result in downed trees and power lines across the region.
Speaker Tim Moore urged residents to take all safety precautions immediately and to seek higher ground as necessary ahead of catastrophic flooding:
“These updates demonstrate the urgent danger facing millions of our friends, families and neighbors – take every measure available to prepare now for the worst, especially those who should still safely seek higher ground,” Moore said.
Three fatalities had been reported as a result of the storm by 3:30 p.m. on Friday. State officials are scheduled to give another briefing to the press and public at 5:00 p.m. on Friday.
Mobile And Online Resources:
For questions regarding Hurricane Florence, please call 211 or 888-892-1162, and use 911 only in case of emergencies. Text “Florence” to 898211 for assistance. If you haven’t downloaded the ReadyNC mobile app, do so by clicking here.
For the latest updates on the storm, visit hurricanes.gov. To follow updates from FEMA on Florence, please visit their website here. For additional resources, visit readync.org or ready.gov. Recursos en español.
Preparing For The Storm:
- Turn on your TV or radio in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
- Restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include food and water sufficient for at least three days, medications, a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
- Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. For example, you can call, text, email or use social media. Remember that during disasters, sending text messages is usually reliable and faster than making phone calls because phone lines are often overloaded.
- Review your evacuation zone, evacuation route and shelter locations. Plan with your family. You may have to leave quickly so plan ahead.
- Keep your car in good working condition, and keep the gas tank full; stock your vehicle with emergency supplies and a change of clothes.
- Bookmark your city or county website for quick access to storm updates and emergency instructions.
- Bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building.
- If possible, cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.
- Be prepared to lose power for several days. Charge electronic devices, spare external cell phone batteries, turn refrigerators to their lowest setting and only open when necessary.
- Checklist of emergency supplies
- Evacuation and shelter information
During The Storm:
- If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Do not drive around barricades.
- If sheltering during high winds, go to a FEMA safe room, ICC 500 storm shelter, or a small, interior, windowless room or hallway on the lowest floor that is not subject to flooding.
- If trapped in a building by flooding, go to the highest level of the building. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising flood water.
- Listen for current emergency information and instructions.
- Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machinery outdoors ONLY and away from windows.
- Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
- Stay off of bridges over fast-moving water.
After The Storm:
- Listen to authorities for information and special instructions.
- Be careful during clean-up. Wear protective clothing and work with someone else.
- Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box to prevent electric shock.
- Avoid wading in flood water, which can contain dangerous debris. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.
- Save phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messages or social media to communicate with family and friends.
- Document any property damage with photographs. Contact your insurance company for assistance.