Cooper declares state of emergency as Irma's impact remains unclear
Posted September 6
Updated September 7
Raleigh, N.C. — Meteorologists are calling Hurricane Irma one of the strongest storms to ever form in the Atlantic, and Triangle residents are taking their statement seriously.
Although the projected path of Irma, currently a Category 5 storm with winds at 185 mph, is not yet confirmed to severely impact North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper has declared a state of emergency, effective at 8 a.m. Thursday, to prepare for the storm.
"We don't know exactly where the storm will track and we don't know what parts of North Carolina will be impacted, but we do know it is time for North Carolinians to prepare for Irma," Cooper said during a Wednesday evening press conference.
Cooper said that emergency officials are currently preparing for potential impact on all 100 counties in the state. Once Irma's final track becomes clear, steps will be taken to concentrate recourses to the areas were they will be most needed, he said.
The latest forecast on Wednesday showed powerful Hurricane Irma moving across the Caribbean. Current path projections show that Irma could brush the Florida coast early Sunday, near Miami, before heading north along the Florida coast.
"There is still a good bit of uncertainty as to what path the storm will take in the coming days," said WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze.
Local businesses and families are already preparing for the storm's threat.
The Lowe's store located in Cary on Walnut. St. is completely sold out of generators, the manager said Wednesday. The Home Depot minutes away from Lowe's in Cary has also sold out of generators, along with the Home Depot stores on Capital Blvd. in Raleigh and in Garner at the White Oak shopping center.
Local chapters of the Red Cross are also preparing for the possibility of Irma. According to NBC affiliate WXII, the organization is already calling staff members and volunteers to check their availability and examining shelters to make sure they’re ready to open.
After Hurricane Harvey dumped historic levels of rain in Texas, North Carolina sent several search and rescue crews to the state to provide aid. Cooper said the majority of those teams have already returned home, while the rest are expected to arrive home Thursday.
"We know that resources are going to be strained. The good thing is that North Carolina knows what to do when these storms come. We'll be ready," he said.
Irma comes less than one year after Hurricane Mathew left behind devastation in several North Carolina towns, and many people are still displaced as a reslt of that storm. Cooper said organizations will need to work to ensure those people have a safe place to go when Irma arrives.
"No matter where you are, no matter what your situation is, you need to get ready for the storm," he said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said officials are making slow releases at Falls Sam and Jordan Dam ahead of the storm, although water levels at both lakes were below normal levels Wednesday.