RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Mike Easley activated 200 North Carolina National Guard soldiers to assist with the state's preparedness and response efforts as Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Charley pass through the state.
Watch 4 p.m. Press Briefing
Teams of 50 Guard members are based in armories in the Triangle, Lumberton, Kinston and Charlotte. Three hundred additional soldiers remain on alert, ready to serve if they are needed. In addition, Easley has issued Executive Order No. 63, declaring a state of emergency.
"In North Carolina, we are taking every precaution to ensure that we are prepared as the second tropical system in as many days visits our state," Easley said. "I have declared a state of emergency to expedite federal assistance following the storm and I have activated 200 National Guard soldiers to assist in our efforts. Three hundred soldiers remain on alert in case the storm worsens."
Hurricane Charley is expected to bring tropical storm force winds, possible tornadoes, heavy rain and thunderstorms to most of North Carolina beginning Saturday afternoon and evening. Rainfall is expected to be between four and eight inches.
Significant rainfall amounts may cause flooding especially near low-lying areas, rivers and coastal communities. Motorists are urged to drive with caution and not to attempt driving across water-covered roadways or around barriers that indicate roadway closure due to flooding.
"Following Hurricane Floyd, 23 people drowned in their vehicles," said Easley. "We do not want to see these tragedies repeated. I urge people to stay off the roads unless it is an emergency. A small amount of water on the roadways can make for hazardous driving conditions."
Statewide, there are three confirmed fatalities, at least 36 injuries and more than 130 homes that have been damaged or destroyed as a part of the storm. There are three confirmed fatalities, 29 injuries and at least 20 damaged homes in Pender County.
Harnett County is reporting three injuries, more than 100 homes with damage, and four homes and a senior center completely destroyed. Carteret County reports three injuries and eight damaged travel trailers in a campground. Onslow County reports one injury and one damaged home. Rockingham County reports two damaged homes and three destroyed homes.
N.C. Department of Crime Control & Public Safety
, including the Division of Emergency Management, has been tracking both storms for several days and is coordinating with county emergency response officials.
The State Emergency Response Team, which includes state agencies and volunteer response organizations such as the American Red Cross and Salvation Army, will be activated over the next several days to respond to county requests.
Eight swift water rescue teams are on standby statewide to conduct rescues in floodwaters if that becomes necessary. State law enforcement agencies have their personnel on alert as well. An Urban Search and Rescue Team and a Public Health Regional Response Team were activated Friday morning to assist Pender County with the tornado response.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been contacting operators of municipal and animal waste systems to advise them of precautions to take during hurricane season. DENR's Land Quality Section has activated its emergency response mode statewide, with all field personnel on alert in case of a dam emergency. Field staff from other agencies, including the Division of Water Quality, are on standby.
The Department of Transportation reported one road closing on Highway 210 in Pender County that has since been cleared. NC DOT has crews ready to respond to road washouts, set up detours and clear away debris. For highway conditions, visit the DOT's online
Real-Time Travel Information
or call (877) DOT-4-YOU.
In addition to monitoring local weather reports, citizens should prepare by assembling or updating their
emergency supply kits
. Having emergency kits ready will make evacuation and recovery easier.