NC House leadership release statements on Hurricane Florence
Rep. John Bell
Raleigh, NC – Following another briefing with N.C. Emergency Management Director Michael Sprayberry, N.C. House Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne) discussed the efforts underway to ready for Hurricane Florence and urged residents to fully prepare and take the threat seriously.
“It is becoming clearer by the hour that North Carolina will be facing a potentially very dangerous storm in Hurricane Florence and now is the time for folks to get prepared and have emergency plans in place,” said Rep. Bell. “I have been in close contact with federal, state and local partners about the response effort and have had multiple conversations with Director Sprayberry on exactly what we are facing.
“I have also joined Sen. Tillis in urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release as much water as possible from the dams ahead of the storm and spoken with Duke Energy about mobilizing units for after the storm. Every storm is different, but our state is taking steps to be prepared. It is critical that our citizens do the same. The amount of water that could be coming, in addition to the winds and rains, has the potential to bring catastrophic flooding and damage to our region.”
On Sunday, Gov. Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency and waived transportation rules to help farmers harvest and transport their crops more quickly. There will be lots of heavy trucks on the roads over the next few days so it is important people are cautious and prepared.
NC Emergency Management has shared the following tips for preparing for the storm:
· Build an emergency kit.
· Make a family communications plan.
· Know the routes you need to leave your home (evacuation routes). Locate your local emergency shelters.
· Closely watch/listen to the weather reports. Listen every hour as a storm nears.
· Put fuel in all vehicles and withdraw some cash from the bank. Gas stations and ATMs may be closed after a hurricane.
· If authorities ask you to leave, do so quickly.
Additional safety tips can be found on the free ReadyNC mobile app or online at readync.org.
NC House Speaker Tim Moore
Legislative leaders received a briefing from N.C. Emergency Management Division Director Mike Sprayberry on Monday at 12 p.m. and released details of the conference call to the public as preparations continue for Hurricane Florence.
Lawmakers canceled the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee and the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety that were scheduled Thursday, as well as the House Select Committee on School Safety that was scheduled Friday.
“I urge every North Carolinian to immediately prepare for Hurricane Florence, to help their friends, families, and neighbors in need get ready for this storm, and to pray for the safety of our fellow Americans in its path,” Moore said.
Key Updates from N.C. Emergency Management Division Director Mike Sprayberry’s Briefing for State Lawmakers at 12 p.m. on Monday
· North Carolina remains under a State of Emergency and “24-hour activation” of first responders, state officials
· Hurricane Florence winds have reached 130 m.p.h.
· N.C. Emergency Management is coordinating preparedness and relief efforts with cities, counties, other states, and federal agencies.
“We are still thinking it’s going to be a very dangerous coastal storm surge of 10 feet or more,” Director Sprayberry said Monday, “with inland flooding from rainfall because we do think the system will stall once it makes landfall with sustained high winds.”
· Statewide threat assessments predict significant risks not only to the coast but to inland and Western North Carolina counties, where extensive flooding and landslides caused by torrential rain are a possibility.
· Torrential winds and rainfall will make it difficult for rivers in the eastern region to empty into the ocean, especially from Morehead City to Southport, N.C.
· The state Emergency Operations Center is activated and 200 National Guard troops are also activated.
· Evacuations are already underway in Dare County and may begin soon in other Outer Banks and coastal communities.
· Brunswick, Pender, New Hanover, and Onslow counties are all having control group meetings about preparedness and potential evacuation planning today.
· Catastrophic winds will threaten not only coastal communities but inland counties as well.
· The earliest bands of tropical storm force winds will hit the coast by Wednesday evening, so residents and visitors should be prepared to leave the coast by early afternoon on Wednesday.
· Life-threatening rip currents and surf are already closing beaches along the North Carolina coast and all visitors and residents should heed
· North Carolinians should specifically take action to collect non-perishable food items and water, prepare safety kits, review local emergency and evacuation plans, clear yards of debris, gather and secure important items, download the Ready NC app, monitor state, local and federal agencies, and assist citizens in need, particularly those with limited mobility and resources.
“We are activating and pre-staging commodities in Kinston with overhead incident management teams,” Director Sprayberry told lawmakers on Monday.
· The state Department of Transportation and the State Highway Patrol are coordinating for potential evacuations to move smoothly.
· Swift water and search-and-rescue teams are being activated through the Emergency Management Compact
· Aviation units, including eight Blackhawk helicopters and other N.C. National Guard resources are preparing for “hoist operations” to rescue victims and heavy-lift helicopters like Chinooks are also being requested
· Food, water and shelter warehouses are being activated and stocked across North Carolina.
· FEMA has staged commodities in North Carolina including two urban search and rescue teams.
· 200 people are preparing at incident support base at Ft. Bragg
· Three state medical support center sites activated including Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro.
· Emergency Management is coordinating with hospitals, which typically don’t like to evacuate, to evaluate all options in the coming days.
· Centers for Medicaid and Medicare services are providing data sets of at-risk populations to track them and prepare assistance measures.
· Energy companies – including electric co-ops and Duke/Progress, are being worked with to monitor power needs.
· Widespread power outages are predicted because the storm will not leave North Carolina immediately, it “will be with us at least a few days once it hits.”
· Fuel supply is stable and waivers are in place to maximize availability, including for aviation assets.
· A request has been approved for nuclear regulatory commission representation at the state Emergency Operations Center as they monitor Brunswick and Harris nuclear plants in the path of the storm.
· There are currently no unmet communications needs but the statewide interoperability managers are working with locals on communications contingency plans.
· High winds are absolutely a threat to tower infrastructure, especially along the coast, to the VIPER public safety communications infrastructure used by state and local public safety officials.
· There are no unmet needs for the state Department of Transportation at this time, as evacuation routes are monitored for traffic flow and the Highway Patrol set traffic control points for evacuation planning.
· The admiral in charge of the east coast for the U.S. Coast Guard has set port condition “whiskey” in effect, meaning they are on alert and haven’t made decisions. Ports are expected to close later this week.
· The ferry division is monitoring routes and adjusting and canceling as needed.
· The Environmental Protection Agency provided representation to the state Emergency Operations Center to monitor sites like coal ash pits and hog lagoons, as well as nuclear plants.
· The Governor’s Executive Order 52 will help farmers move livestock and crops by temporarily waiving the cap on maximum hours of service restrictions for trucks and heavy vehicles.
· Emergency Management is requesting President Trump to extend a federal disaster declaration as soon as possible.
· The Emergency Management Division is working to establish a legislative response team at the Emergency Operations Center for rapid response to elected officials.
· Director Sprayberry does expect mandatory evacuations along the coastal communities
· The state’s evacuation and sheltering plan has been activated so counties in coastal regions have partners in central parts of North Carolina to evacuate to, a program where local governments are reimbursed for the shelters, 75% by the federal government and 25% by the state.
· The track of Hurricane Florence has not wavered, it appears by the models that North Carolina will receive the brunt of the storm’s landing between Wilmington and Carteret County later this week.