RALEIGH, WAKE COUNTY - Gov. McCrory warns North Carolinians to prepare for Hurricane Arthur.
Governor Pat McCrory joined Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata and Department of Public Safety Law Enforcement Commissioner Greg Baker today to give an update on Hurricane Arthur preparations.
Hurricane Arthur has strengthened into a category one hurricane and is expected to reach North Carolina shores Thursday afternoon.
"With our coastal communities bustling during one of the biggest weekends for tourism in the region, the safety of our coastal residents and visitors remains our top priority," Governor McCrory said. "I urge everyone to stay informed, be ready and stay safe. We anticipate a beautiful holiday weekend once Hurricane Arthur clears out," said Governor Pat McCrory.
The North Carolina Emergency Operations Center (EOC) activated Thursday morning with North Carolina Emergency Management staff and key State Emergency Response Team partners monitoring the event with the objective of supporting local government preparation, response and recovery efforts.
"Public safety and emergency management personnel have been monitoring the storm over the past few days and taking protective actions to ensure we are prepared," Commissioner of Law Enforcement Greg Baker said. "We will continue to work with local and county officials to provide assistance and aid in response and recovery efforts," said Pat McCrory.
All of the state's coastal counties are under hurricane and tropical storm warnings. Coastal areas may see periods of heavy rains and gusty winds, rip currents, heavy surf and moderate beach erosion. Heavy rains bring the threat of flooding in low lying areas and marshes. High winds have the potential to cause scattered power outages, structural damage and downed trees. Portions of the Outer Banks may experience periods of hurricane force winds as the storm passes.
Pender, Hyde, Dare, Currituck and Carteret counties have declared a State of Emergency. More coastal counties are expected to declare a State of Emergency as the day progresses as well as open shelters as needed. A voluntary evacuation is in place for Ocracoke Island in Hyde County and Dare County emergency management ordered a mandatory evacuation for residents and visitors of Hatteras Island. Access to the island was cut off at 5 a.m. today. All ferry operations traveling on the sound and Ocracoke-Hatteras routes will cease this afternoon.
The North Carolina National Guard (NCNG) will have soldiers on standby ready to provide direct assistance to state emergency managers, the highway patrol and first responders. Guardsmen are staged at the North Carolina National Guard armory in Kinston and will deploy if required. NCNG has high water vehicles, helicopters, and can provide power generation, medical, communication and shelter support as well as transport supplies if needed.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol has placed all essential personnel on stand-by and is ready for deployment at a moment's notice. Troopers will be monitoring all major highways and will be assisting the Department of Transportation, county Emergency Management officials and local partners.
The N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) continues to monitor conditions and has equipment and crews in place along the North Carolina coast ready to respond to Hurricane Arthur.
"Safety is always our top priority, and we urge everyone to stay off the roads both during and after the storm so that we can work as quickly as possible to clear them," Secretary Tata said. "We will continue to monitor conditions, and our crews are prepared to work around the clock to respond as necessary," said Governor McCrory.
NCDOT has prepositioned equipment and personnel along the coast and increased ferry runs to expedite the transportation of residents and visitors off of Hatteras Island. Secretary Tata strongly encourages people to take advantage of these runs before ferry operations cease this afternoon.
Crews in all of NCDOT's coastal divisions spent the last two days checking equipment and loading signs. They will now remain on standby throughout the storm and stand ready to work to help power companies clear roads blocked by storm damage and help block flooded roadways as needed.
The NCDOT Ferry Division is providing round-the-clock service between Ocracoke and Hatteras and will continue to do so until weather conditions make it unsafe to operate. It has adjusted its Hatteras schedule to accommodate more departures in the morning and early afternoon. Ferry routes for Ocracoke-Cedar Island and Ocracoke-Swan Quarter are continuing to operate free of charge until the evacuation order is lifted. Crews have also inspected the emergency ferry docks to ensure those sites are ready if needed. The Ferry Division expects service interruptions to begin this afternoon as the hurricane hits the area, possibly lasting into the afternoon Friday on the most northern routes.
The current storm track allows for the possibility of over wash along Highway 12 south of the Bonner Bridge. NCDOT has equipment ready to mobilize if needed, as well as employees prepared to patrol N.C. 12 during and after the storm. A plan is also in place to conduct underwater inspections at Bonner Bridge as soon as conditions are safe for the divers.
NCDOT will provide real-time information about weather and travel conditions through its Twitter feeds. As the storm approaches, the department will send out tweets about road closures, flooding, ferry route updates and evacuation routes. G
overnor McCrory has signed three Executive Orders related to the storm. Executive Order 57 declared a State of Emergency for 26 coastal and adjoining inland counties to prepare for the possibility of any damage, including coastal flooding, caused by Hurricane Arthur. A State of Emergency authorizes the use of state government resources to assist city and county governments in storm response. Executive Order 58 waives various transportation rules and regulations in order to quickly restore power and expedite any debris removal. The third Executive Order amended E.O. 58 to include agricultural vehicles in the temporary suspension of motor vehicle regulations. T
raffic and ferry conditions can be accessed on the ReadyNC website and mobile application for iPhone and android devices. ReadyNC also provides information on how to prepare an emergency plan and kit, gives real-time traffic updates, weather, water levels, power outages, open shelters, flood gauges and evacuation routes.
North Carolina residents and visitors should listen to the local news for the latest advisories from the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center and state and local officials.
The holiday weekend is one of the biggest weekends for coastal tourism in the state. The safety of North Carolina's citizens and visitors remains the state's top priority. North Carolina tourism offices are actively working with state and local emergency management and local tourism offices to keep visitors informed of the approaching storm.
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