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Preparations underway across NC as Matthew approaches east coast

Posted October 5
Updated October 6

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— From Florida to South and North Carolina, governors in all three states are urging people to keep an eye on the forecast as Hurricane Matthew slowly makes its way northward.

In the last 24 hours, Matthew's path has moved east, which means it could have less of an impact on the Tar Heel State.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Gov. Pat McCrory stressed that Matthew could pack a punch for the coastal areas, even if the track stays out east.

"There is still an opportunity for some serious rain - 5 to 10 inches in certain areas of the state- and that's the last thing we need regarding some of the saturated ground that we have up and down the coast," McCrory said.

According to McCrory, emergency response teams and resources will remain ready to help until the threat of Matthew has passed.

"At this time, the storm is working to North Carolina's advantage," he said. "Our major concern is if it stalls."

New Hanover County is cautiously optimistic

At a briefing Wednesday, officials in Wilmington said they will hold off on making an decisions about evacuations and shelters.

"We are breathing slightly better than we were yesterday at this time," said Warren Lee with New Hanover County Emergency Management. "High water is the biggest concern for us with our beaches. All of them are very low lying and it doesn't take much of a storm surge to affect the community as a whole."

May people made the trip to the beach to remove their boats from the water.

"We drove down this morning, came down to take the boats out. Even though the forecast changed a little bit, it’s still a little bit scary to leave them in there," Roy Gains said.

Some others, who have boats along the coast, are not able to make the drive. Mark Daniels helped a customer earlier in the day get his boat out of the water.

"We have a lot of customers that don't live here. We have a lot that we store them on Market Street, so we're just offering that service for them," he said.

Cumberland County and FEMA prep for Matthew

Cumberland County is prepared at the local level for possible rain, wind and power outages associated with Hurricane Matthew.

City and county leaders say they are staying the course with their emergency preparation plan, even though the track has shifted east.

"The Federal government is so famous for saying the first 72 hours are on you, but that's the planning timeline," said Scott Bullard, Fayetteville Emergency Management Director. "You need to prepare all the food, water, medicine and even things for your pets for that first 72 hours."

FEMA set up an instant support base at Fort Bragg. during the next few days, several truckloads of supplies will be staged at Simmons Army Airfield on post. It will be on demand to the states where it is needed.

"Emergency meals, emergency generators, cots, water, blankets, those types of items to be sent to the states once the storm makes landfall or impacts the state," Matthew Wiedemer with FEMA said.

Cumberland County, which serves as an evacuation center for people who live in Brunswick County, will open five emergency shelters.

But some residents in Cumberland County are still trying to clean up from last week's floods. At least six roads remain closed Wednesday because of the flooding. Even with just a few more inches of rain, leaders say big problems could arise.

"The grounds are flooded, tree roots are very vulnerable to any high winds that come along, and when trees fall, power lines fall with them," said Marshall Faircloth, Cumberland County Commissioner Chairman.

Tourists head inland as hurricane approaches NC

About a month ago, businesses in Beaufort were preparing for Hermine. Now, residents in the area are bracing for Hurricane Matthew.

"Based on the weather, even if we weren't leaving tomorrow...we'd leave tomorrow," said Josh Randall.

As waves strengthen as Matthew heads toward the east coast, most people in Atlantic Beach plan to head inland.

UNC Researcher Rick Leuttich said because of sea level rise, even if the storm is not a direct hit, it cannot be ignored.

"For years we just thought about categories and wind speeds, but storm surge is the main reason why we have property destruction and loss of life. In face, it typically drives evacuation," he said.

Evacuations of tourists began Wednesday from Ocracoke Island. But Hyde County on Wednesday evening suspended the mandatory evacuation order for resident and non-resident property owners given earlier in the week.

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