Kure Beach, Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach are all following New Hanover County’s lead and waiting to see whether it is necessary for them to declare states of emergency in their municipalities in anticipation of Hurricane Joaquin.
On Thursday, each town held a meeting with their respective department heads to determine what actions needed to be taken to prepare for the coming storm. All three decided to hold off on making any major closures or changes until more information about Joaquin’s track is known. The main concern for the beaches is the level of water expected from the rain, storm surge and high tides and the flooding and beach erosion that results.
Wrightsville Beach officials are scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Friday to reassess the town’s situation. In Kure Beach, officials will meet again around noon Friday following the county’s briefing to determine what course of action, if any, is necessary. During their meeting on Thursday afternoon, the heads of the public works and fire departments said their teams already had generators running in preparation for power outages. The fire department will also be taking down lifeguard stands from the beach strand on Friday as part of their precautions.
Carolina Beach, which experienced bad flooding and the closure of Freeman Park during last weekend’s storm, has already closed off Canal Drive to all motorists except residents but is waiting for Friday morning’s weather update to make any more decisions. According to Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin, the town’s department heads will meet sometime Friday morning to determine if any other safety precautions need to be taken. Carolina Beach Lake is also being monitored for flooding problems, Parvin said, although it was pumped to the minimum water level ahead of last week’s storm to minimize damage.
No evacuations on either of the islands have been issued, but some events have been canceled or postponed.
While the governor has declared a state of emergency in all 100 North Carolina counties, the beach towns are more concerned about what local leaders are planning to do.
New Hanover County Emergency Management Director Warren Lee briefed commissioners about Hurricane Joaquin at 4 p.m. Thursday, and determined a “wait and see approach” for closure and proactive measures are the most appropriate for the county at this time.
“We are going to continue to watch it for now and make any protective action decisions tomorrow morning in a brief meeting,” said Lee. “At that point we will make any protective action moves for our community and we are prepared to open shelters if need be.”
A time for Friday morning’s briefing is yet to be determined.
Further north in Onslow County, the town of North Topsail Beach declared a state of emergency at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. Officials there are also concerned about the flooding that could come from the heavy rains and storm surge expected and said they would continue to monitor the situation. Residents are encouraged to keep up with local television and radio news as well as the town’s website and social media sites for the most updated information about road and bridge closings and any other public safety information.