Cape Fear counties issue states of emergency, voluntary evacuations as Hurricane Matthew approaches

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SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA —Hurricane Matthew was once again upgraded to a Category 4 storm on Thursday and millions are evacuating in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

The storm’s impact on North Carolina looks to less eventful than previously thought. The eye of the storm is predicted to miss the state. However, officials from emergency management, the National Weather Service and the Governor Pat McCrory himself are advising residents of Southeastern North Carolina to be vigilant because the storm could shift again, putting it on a direct course for the state’s coastline.

(Watch the governor’s briefing.)

The Cape Fear Region is now under tropical storm and flash flood warnings.

The storm’s predicted turn is at Charleston, South Carolina, which, McCrory noted during his morning briefing, is only 100 miles from North Carolina border, when he urged residents of the Cape Fear region to not “let up their guards” and to be prepared to evacuate if necessary.

“If there is a slight change in the model, that could have a tremendous impact on North Carolina,” McCrory said. “We are going to continue to be over-prepared and hopefully underwhelmed.”

Of particular concern to McCrory is an over-saturated ground and ocean surges that he expects will bring flooding and beach erosion to the area.

Locally, the wait and see approach that was being taken by officials as late as yesterday afternoon is over.  States of emergency and voluntary evacuations are now being issued.

New Hanover County

New Hanover County has declared a state of emergency effective at 12 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6.

“The state of emergency implemented for New Hanover County is a precautionary measure that will allow Emergency Management officials to access resources immediately if they are needed,” New Hanover County Chairman Beth Dawson said. “We encourage citizens to remain vigilant and monitor the storm. While we may not take a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew, flooding, high winds, and the potential for power outages all remain serious concerns.”

The New Hanover County Emergency Operations Center is operating in a limited activation working with local, state, federal and other community partners to ensure resources are in place and ready to be deployed as necessary.

Given the current forecast, widely scattered power outages are likely across the Cape Fear coastal areas, according to a briefing from the county. Residents are encouraged to secure any loose items around the house such as lawn furniture, canopies, tents, etc.

Information and updates regarding New Hanover County government operations are being posted online at emergencyNHC.com, and on social media. Follow @NewHanoverEM and @NewHanoverCo on Twitter and on Facebook page at facebook.com/NewHanoverEM and facebook.com/NewHanoverCO for the latest news and information.

Brunswick County

Brunswick County has declared a state of emergency, which will take effect at 6 a.m. on Friday. In conjunction, Brunswick County has also issued a voluntary evacuation as of 8 a.m. for residents in unincorporated low-lying and flood-prone areas.

Shelters will open at 8 a.m.

The courthouse will be closed Friday and Brunswick Transit System’s transportation services will be closed Friday.

Oak Island
Oak Island’s voluntary evacuation for visitors in low-lying areas and oceanfront properties was issued Wednesday and took effect at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Bald Head Island

The voluntary evacuation notice in Bald Head Island is to all residents, property owners, and visitors. At this time, all non-residents (i.e. those renting for the week etc.) are required to evacuate.

For additional emergency information in Brunswick County, visit the county website or sign up for the county’s Code Red alert system. Hutcheson said this alert system is recommended for Brunswick County residents and has several options, including text alerts, call and email, as well as options for the hearing impaired.

Pender County

Pender County Commissioners issued a state of emergency Thursday morning, warning of flash flooding. The Pender County Office of Emergency Management is urging county residents to take protective actions as Hurricane Matthew approaches the region.

In recent weather events, the Pender County area experienced saturating rains and flooding, Emergency Manager Tom Collins said in a county notice on Tuesday. Collins said if this storm moves slowly, it will produce a lot of rain. Trees may topple, taking down power lines.

Collins added that the coastal towns of Surf City and Topsail Beach could have possible flooding, breaches and over-wash later in the week.

Pender County Emergency Management will post additional updates on its Facebook page and its website.