Monday, June 17, 2024

‘Stay off the roads’: Officials say sinkholes forming, power lines down, most major intersections offline

Local officials offered practical advice during a Saturday morning press briefing, including treating all offline intersections as four-way stops for those who choose to venture out to the roadways.

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Though people have started hitting the roads after now-Tropical Storm Florence has started moving away, local officials are still urging residents of the Cape Fear region to stay inside.

As officials continue to warn evacuees to stay at bay, in-town traffic is unorganized and dangerous.

RELATED: Weeks, not days, before safe return, New Hanover, Pender, Brunswick counties tell evacuated residents

According to Wilmington’s Mayor Bill Saffo, several areas have sinkholes that have developed.

“We don’t want to get into a situation where we lose a car and lose life,” Saffo said during a Saturday morning press briefing.

To avoid sinkholes, Saffo said to steer clear of standing water. The number and location of sinkholes in the area is currently unknown, according to city spokesperson Malissa Talbert, but will be made available after assessments are completed.

He also asked motorists in town, where all major intersections are currently offline, to treat all crossings as if they are four-way stops.

As seen on TV

In Wrightsville Beach, where Hurricane Florence first made its east coast landfall, damage was lighter than expected, according to Mayor Bill Blair.

“The structural damage was not as severe as it may have looked on TV,” Blair.

Earlier this year, Wrightsville Beach completed a beach renourishment project, which placed 750,000 cubic yards of sand on the beach. That’s nearly all gone now, Blair said.

“It looks like a normal beach,” he said. “It doesn’t look like the wide beach we had a week ago.”

Duke Crews

Though Duke Energy has prepared 20,000 crew members across a multi-state region to respond to Hurricane Florence’s aftermath, they have not yet all arrived.

“Getting here, at this point, is not the easiest path,” New Hanover County’s manager, Chris Coudriet, said. “If you can make it here as a resource, we need that to come sooner rather than later.”

Outside resources are needed, Coudriet said, and encouraged to make their way into to town when and if they can.

Though most hurricane-force winds have ceased, flooding is expected to continue into Saturday afternoon and evening.

Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at

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