RALEIGH -

Gov. Bev Perdue declared a State of Emergency effective Saturday for 33 eastern North Carolina counties in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy's presence off the coast of the state Saturday. This morning, the National Hurricane Center issued a Tropical Storm Watch for most of the North Carolina coast. A tropical storm watch is in effect from Nags Head to the South Carolina border.

"This is a large storm with a lot of energy and its effects are likely to be felt along our coast and throughout eastern counties," Perdue said. "People should not be fooled by the category 1 status. Folks need to take this storm seriously and be ready."
The governor's proclamation authorizes officials to respond more effectively to the emergency by authorizing additional state government resources to assist county and municipal governments. Under the proclamation, the governor has expanded powers to address all aspects of the emergency, including the authority to use state resources needed to respond to the situation. Perdue activated the State Emergency Operations Center beginning Saturday morning to prepare for and respond to the storm.
The governor also encouraged her fellow North Carolinians to be prepared for Hurricane Sandy possibly hitting the state late Saturday or early Sunday.

"Our state's veteran emergency management team is ready for Sandy, but coastal North Carolinians need to be just as prepared. Please make sure you have extra food, water and supplies on hand in case you lose water or electrical power during and after the storm," Perdue said.

"This is not your typical hurricane that moves through the state in 12 to 24 hours," cautioned Doug Hoell, state emergency management director. "Folks in eastern North Carolina will likely feel the effects of Hurricane Sandy beginning tonight and continuing through Tuesday."

The latest hurricane center advisory projects tropical storm force winds and rain from Hurricane Sandy will begin later tonight and continue through Tuesday. Rainfall amounts will be greatest east of U.S. 17, where 4 to 6 inches of rain or more are possible. Areas further inland can expect 2 to 3 inches of rain with up to 5 inches in some spots. Steady winds of 30 to 40 miles per hour with gusts up to 60 mph are expected in coastal counties from Saturday through Monday, while inland counties as far as the Triangle can expect winds of 15 to 25 miles per hour with gusts up to 35 mph during the same timeframe. Dangerous rip currents and heavy surf with 18-22 foot waves off the Outer Banks are expected between Friday and Tuesday. Officials are also cautioning coastal residents to be prepared for storm surge of 1 to 5 feet above ground level along the Inner and Outer Banks, particularly along the lower Neuse River and Pamlico Sound. Storm surges of 1 to 3 feet above ground level are possible along the southern coast.