NC adds more shelters, 46 new swift water boats as Cooper urges residents to get prepared now

Posted September 2, 2019 6:17 p.m. EDT
Updated September 2, 2019 10:35 p.m. EDT

— With Hurricane Dorian expected to menace North Carolina on Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday told residents to prepare now for what is expected to be a Category 2 storm when it arrives.

"The preparations you make now could save your life later," Cooper said. "Please make sure your family is prepared and include your pets in your plans."

While Dorian is not expected at this point to bring the massive flooding that Florence brought last year, officials say lessons learned from Florence and Matthew have led to changes in how the state is preparing for such natural disasters.

One big difference this year is that the state has added 46 new swift water boats. The crews who will use them are already trained and in place for search-and-rescue efforts if needed throughout the eastern part of the state.

Another change made after last year's storms include adding more shelters in more places and having them open earlier. The massive scale of the damage left by Florence quickly overwhelmed many local shelters.

Cooper said plans for shelters are being finalized, including a 100-bed medical support shelter for medically fragile evacuees. Additional shelters inland are preparing for evacuees.

Mike Sprayberry, director of the state's Emergency Management Office, said Monday that a major shelter site at the old Sears store at North Gate Mall in Durham is already being set up for people who are being evacuated from the coast.

"We are activating shelters earlier," he said.

Charlotte Motor Speedway announced that it will open its campgrounds for evacuees from the coast, and the SPCA of Wake County says it will take dogs from evacuated shelters.

The governor has activated 300 members of the North Carolina National Guard to assist with logistics, transportation and a variety of operations. The state Department of Transportation has moved resources eastward to patrol major evacuation routes, and state Highway Patrol troopers are prepared to help drivers and coordinate evacuation traffic.

Cooper said he has asked the Trump Administration to issue a disaster declaration to make it easier for residents to apply for aid reimbursement.

"Because this storm is anticipated to pick up speed, time is running out to get ready," Cooper said. "Know what you will do if you have to evacuate."

He also urged residents to respond to evacuation orders as they are issued.

So far, the following areas are under evacuation orders:

  • Hyde County has ordered a mandatory evacuation of all visitors from Ocracoke Island that will go into effect on Tuesday at 5 am. A mandatory evacuation of Ocracoke residents will go into effect on Wednesday at 5 a.m. Ferries will waive their fees to get visitors off the island.

  • A mandatory evacuation has been issued for all Dare County visitors Tuesday at noon. A mandatory evacuation order for all Dare County residents begins Wednesday at 6 a.m.

  • Carteret County is under a voluntary evacuation beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Sprayberry said the state's Emergency Operations Center has been fully activated and is operating around the clock until the storm passes.