Friday, March 1, 2024

New Hanover County briefing: Dorian impact details, mandatory beach town evacuations, shelters

(Video: Watch the entire briefing above, featuring New Hanover County Chairman Jonathan Barfield, County Manager Chris Coudriet, Emergency Management Director Steven Still, Mayor Bill Saffo, and NHCS Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley).

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — County and local officials addressed the impending impact of Hurricane Dorian, including plans for evacuations, shelters, and details on rain and winds from the storm.

New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jonathan Barfield said the county is well prepared and has the assurance of state assistance. The county is preparing to open shelters and begin feeding operations.


Steven Still, director of New Hanover County Emergency Management presented the latest details on the expected impact of Hurricane Dorian. Still said according to the current predictions, the center of Hurricane Dorian will pass 25 miles off the coast of the Wilmington area, meaning several bands of powerful winds will impact the mainland.

  • Hurricane-force winds, over 74 mph, will reach 45 miles from its center, or 20 miles inland.
  • Strong tropical force winds, up to 74 mph, will reach 80 miles from the storm’s center, or 55 miles inland.
  • Tropical force winds, between 39 and 73 mph, will extend 150 miles from the storm’s center, or 125 miles inland.
  • Gusts of wind can be unpredictable and can reach higher speeds.

Tropical-storm force winds are expected to first hit the Wilmington area between 3 and 4 a.m. Thursday morning; hurricane and tropical storm winds are expected to cease by Friday afternoon.

Rain is expected to total between 4 and 10 inches, although more could fall depending on the speed of the storm. However the main concern, Still said, is an expected 1 to 3 feet of storm surge, will higher levels along barrier islands.

“Not the rain and flood event we witnesses with Florence,” Still said. “With that said, we want to see our residents prepared. Do not be afraid, be prepared. Still urged residents to have plans in place by 8 p.m. Wednesday night.

Still noted that as the Cape Fear region is coming out of a drought period without the same level of saturation the region experienced in the summer of 2018, officials are not concerned about Wilmington “becoming an island” due to extensive flooding across the roadways into the area.

Mandatory and voluntary evacuations, shelters

County Manager Chris Coudriet said the all of the beach communities in New Hanover County, including Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach, and Figure Eight Island (part of unincorporated New Hanover County) would issue mandatory evacuations starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, September 4.

Coudriet said Wilmington and New Hanover County would also issue voluntary evacuations for low-lying and flood-prone areas of the city and unincorporated county. (New Hanover County maintains a storm surge map, updated every six hours, online)

The county is also opening two emergency shelters at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, September 4, to assist residents in need of shelter during weather impacts of Hurricane Dorian. Each shelter has room for approximately 100 people, according to Still. WAVE transit will be making stops at the shelters (details on which routes will reach the shelters coming soon; Codington is located on WAVE Route 201).

More info on the county’s storm response can be found here.

Blair Elementary on Blair School Road, also known as Wrightsville Beach at Blair Elementary (Pet-friendly Shelter)
6510 Market St.
Wilmington, NC 28405 

Codington Elementary School
4321 Carolina Beach Rd.
Wilmington, NC 28412 

Shelter info:

  • Those seeking emergency shelter should bring their own blankets/pillows, prescription medications and other necessary items like extra clothing and hygiene supplies. No alcohol, illegal drugs, or weapons are permitted. There will be limited food service available for people seeking shelter.   
  • Animals will be maintained in a separate wing of the facility, and owners are allowed visitation at designated times. Residents who are leaving town or staying in a location that does not welcome pets have the option of taking their pet to the New Hanover County Animal Services Unit at 180 Division Drive. Owners are responsible for providing a crate for their pet and any medication and food for special dietary needs. 

Coast Guard closing ports

Captain Bion Stewart of the United States Guard Guard said an incident command had been set up and traffic restricted. The Coast Guard will close the Port Of Wilmington (as well as the port at Morehead City) to traffic on Wednesday afternoon.

Stewart also said the Coast Guard would work with FEMA and state officials to address pollution related to the storm.

You can continue to track closings and other info here: Updated Hurricane Dorian info: Evacuations, closings, shelters, hotlines, and more [Free read]

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