SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Emergency management leaders in Raleigh are telling people to heed warnings and stay home and off the roads, as rain and winds sweep over much of the state from Hurricane Ian. The Category 1 made landfall in Georgetown, South Carolina, around noon Friday.
During a press conference Friday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper advised: “If you have to go out, do not drive into the water. It only takes a few inches to sweep a car away.”
N.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette reiterated one of the state’s most used safety messages: ”Turn around, don’t drown.”
He also advised the public to refrain from driving around road barricades, in place to protect people.
Sunset Beach Police Department posted a video of the town’s causeway flooding Friday afternoon. It also noted to avoid Shoreline Drive East.
Other area police departments have taken to social media to inform the public of waterlogged roads. Wilmington Police Department posted Airlie Road and South Market Street are closed due to flooding, while Wrightsville Beach Police Department noted the intersection of North Lumina Avenue and Parmele Boulevard is closed due to a downed live power line. The area between Live Oak Drive and Island Drive is “severely restricted due to high water” as well.
Storm surge will continue to impact southeastern North Carolina Friday evening. The City of Wilmington noted it has opened valves at Greenfield Lake Park and Silver Spring Pond to increase capacity to intake stormwater.
The latest briefing on Ian from the National Weather Service shows a “slight” risk of tornadoes across the area and gusts that could down trees, though conditions are expected to improve Friday night into Saturday morning.
At least 71 of the state’s 115 school districts are closed and the state ferry system has suspended all trips until the storm recedes, the governor noted at the press conference.
Cooper said more than 29,000 buildings in the state did not have power in at 1:30 p.m. on Friday. The Cape Fear area had more than 1,000 outages, according to Duke Energy, with a concentration of more than 700 outages in the North Wrightsville Beach area. Utility companies have brought in extra crews from outside the state, with thousands of workers on hand to repair power lines and remove debris.
N.C. Emergency Management Director Will Ray said 25 counties have opened emergency operating centers and the state has staged a dozen of its own rescue teams in all three regions, but they have not had to save anyone yet. Ray’s department has filled more than 50 local requests for resources due to the storm.
While none have opened in the tri-county region, Cumberland County opened a shelter in Fayetteville and the Rock City campground at Charlotte Motor Speedway is open for evacuees as well. Ray directed the public to readync.gov for the latest emergency updates from the state.
Ray said dry and moderate drought conditions ahead of the rain help with flooding, but does not eliminate the risk. Waters can be expected to rise in the Pamilco and Cape Fear rivers .
Cooper’s state of emergency remains in effect. He added the state will send assistance to Florida after the storm passes in North Carolina.
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