Thursday, February 29, 2024

Cape Fear counties monitor Hurricane Matthew; some beach towns issue voluntary evacuations

New Hanover County Emergency Management Director Warren Lee and other county officials hosted a press conference Wednesday morning to discuss Hurricane Matthew. (Photo by Christina Haley)
New Hanover County Emergency Management Director Warren Lee and other county officials hosted a press conference Wednesday morning to discuss Hurricane Matthew. (Photo by Christina Haley)

Updated Thursday, Oct. 6, 11:45 a.m.

SOUTHEASTERN, NORTH CAROLINA — While forcasters with the National Weather Service say the track of Hurricane Matthew is somewhat unknown, counties in the Cape Fear region are monitoring conditions and some area beach towns in the area have issued voluntary evacuations.

New Hanover County

New Hanover County issued a state of emergency effective at 12 p.m. Thursday.

“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 in a county release on Thursday. “

Dawson encourages citizens to remain vigilant and monitor the storm. While the area may not take a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew, flooding, high winds, and the potential for power outages all remain serious concerns, she said.

Warren Lee, director of New Hanover County Emergency Services, said at a press conference on Wednesday that Hurricane Matthew has been a “very dynamic storm.”

“This is a very dynamic storm. With every forecast advisory we see significant movement. So, we want folks to realize that we are not out of the woods yet with this storm. This is an extremely large storm…so who knows what the next advisory will bring,” Lee said.

Lee said the county has made preparations to take emergency protective action, if necessary.

“We have shelter teams on standby. We have all our emergency services personnel positions and ready to take action. if necessary,” Lee said on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, the county’s Emergency Operations Center was 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.

Rainfall has been their main concern given the “already wet conditions facing the community,” Lee said.

For the beach towns, Lee said their biggest concern is storm surge. If the storm surges along the beach town areas rise too high, the county will consider evacuation plans. While the tourist season is down, Lee said there’s still a concern for remaining residents. If a total evacuation of beach towns is needed, Lee said they could have everyone off the island in “a little less than eight hours.”

For up-to-date storm-related emergency information, evacuation plans and road closures visit the New Hanover County Emergency website.

Carolina Beach Lake was pumped down in anticipation of heavy rainfall from Hurricane Matthew. Photo by Hannah Leyva.
Carolina Beach Lake was pumped down in anticipation of heavy rainfall from Hurricane Matthew. Photo by Hannah Leyva.

According to the Town of Carolina Beach, officials also declared a state of emergency effective at noon on Thursday. The declaration came during an emergency meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday. Residents can watch the meeting, online.

Wrightsville Beach officials also declared a state of emergency at noon on Thursday. Kure Beach, the third and smallest beach town in the county, has not declared one yet. A special emergency meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at town hall.

“In the past, in situations like this, we’ve never been out of step with Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington and the county, so I expect one of the things we’ll do tonight is declare a state of emergency,” said Commissioner Jim Dugan on Thursday afternoon. “We’ve had the man power in place for a few days now, so we want the citizens to know that we’re doing everything we can to prepare for this storm.”


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 (please note this is the courthouse, and not Brunswick County government offices), and Brunswick Transit System’s transportation services will be closed Friday.

Meanwhile, two Brunswick County islands have undergone states of emergency. Bald Head Island and Oak Island officials have issued a voluntary evacuation.

Oak Island’s voluntary evacuation is for visitors in low-lying areas and oceanfront properties and takes effect at 9 a.m. Thursday, according to the town. 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 officials are monitoring the storm system as well, as area beach towns. The Pender County Office of Emergency Management is urging county residents to take protective actions as Hurricane Matthew approaches the region.

“We don’t know how this storm will track, but we are being proactive and preparing for high winds, coastal flooding and heavy rains,” Pender County Emergency Manager Tom Collins said in a county notice on Tuesday.

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

“This is the time to prepare…We are preparing for the worst and will be ready regardless of how Hurricane Matthew travels in the next few days,” Collins said. “If the storm does not make landfall, we could still experience gale force winds, coastal flooding, down trees and power outages,” Collins said.

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

On Wednesday, the Town of Topsail Beach is still considering a voluntary evacuation, but is encouraging residents who need special care or who may have a medical condition to make arrangements to leave the island.

Pender County Emergency Management will post additional updates on their Facebook page and or visit their website.

More Port City Daily headlines

Hurricane Matthew-related school information: Pender County schools releasing early Friday; UNCW evacuating

Hurricane Matthew’s route changes leave some wondering how to prepare

Hurricane Matthew: Updated cancellations and postponements

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