While the storm track of Hurricane Matthew has shifted to the east over the last few hours, Governor Pat McCrory is still urging North Carolinians and visitors to monitor the storm and closely follow any evacuation orders from local authorities. Evacuations of Ocracoke Island started this morning for non-residents and other coastal areas may order evacuations depending on the track of the storm.
“This morning we received some good news that Matthew’s track has moved slightly off shore, but we remain cautiously optimistic and are prepared to respond at a moment’s notice,” said Governor McCrory. “This is a large storm and its impacts could be felt well inland. It is still extremely important for residents in the eastern parts of the state to stay informed in case you need to evacuate and always follow the directions of your local emergency officials.”
Now a Category 3 hurricane with winds of about 120 mph, Matthew has already made landfall twice, first in Haiti and then Cuba, and is tracking toward the Bahamas and Florida’s Atlantic coast. From there, the large and powerful storm is expected to shift toward the northeast, hugging the Georgia and South Carolina coasts. The storm’s forward motion is slowing, with the latest forecasts bringing Matthew off the southeast North Carolina coast early Sunday morning. Emergency officials are preparing for 4 to 8 inches of rain in southeastern parts of the state with some locally heavier amounts. Some areas are already saturated, which will worsen flooding problems. Downed trees and power outages are likely.
Governor McCrory said the state is in the process of staging needed resources including Highway Patrol, National Guard, urban search and rescue teams, swift water rescue teams, teams of ambulances and paramedics, as well as needed supplies.
Additionally, state transportation equipment is being staged in vulnerable areas, and the Ferry Division is assisting with the evacuation of Ocracoke Island at the direction of the governor. A ferry from the Southport-Fort Fisher route is on standby to assist as needed. Based on the latest track of the storm, the extra ferry can be moved north on Thursday if needed and the Southport-Fort Fisher route will not be disrupted on Wednesday.
Governor McCrory has been in contact with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and has offered assistance as needed.
The governor has also sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting a federal disaster declaration in anticipation of damages in North Carolina caused by Hurricane Matthew.
“This declaration makes federal resources available to help local and state government agencies respond to the potential disaster and gives quick access to stockpiles of disaster supplies like bottled water and meals that FEMA has already staged at Fort Bragg,” explained Governor McCrory.
If approved, this aid will help cover the expense of establishing mass shelter and feeding locations, as well as search and rescue missions and other emergency protective measures. It also would clear the way for federal funding and additional resources to help homeowners, renters and business owners repair and rebuild damaged property and replace some personal items.
Monday, Governor McCrory declared a State of Emergency for 66 eastern and central North Carolina counties to expedite the movement and activation of any resources to help with storm response. He also waived restrictions for truckers on hours of service and weight limits to help farmers harvest their crops, quickly restore power and expedite any debris removal.
The North Carolina Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is activated with staffing support from key state agencies as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The EOC will begin 24-hour operations tomorrow morning with additional personnel. State emergency managers and FEMA representatives are coordinating with North Carolina counties and neighboring states on sheltering and evacuation plans should they be needed.