Thursday, February 29, 2024

Surge threatens Cape Fear region, Brunswick towns take precautions as Ian nears

Hurricane Ian’s winds gained speed overnight to 85 miles per hour, though it’s structure loosened some. Its path also changed slightly in an eastward shift, and it’s expected to land between Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, sometime in the afternoon.

Areas north, up to Southport, North Carolina, are under a hurricane warning, while the coastal towns in New Hanover to Onslow counties are under a hurricane watch. Inland, a tropical storm warning is in effect.

READ MORE: City prepared for Ian with 200 intersections equipped for generator back-up

ALSO: Cooper, state officials talk preparations in face of Ian’s ‘dangerous unpredictability’

The latest National Weather Service update reported winds could top 73 miles per hour in some parts of Brunswick County, while New Hanover to Onslow could receive gusts up to 57 miles per hour. The strongest are expected to be felt at the North Carolina and South Carolina border, with isolated tornadoes and waterspouts a possibility.

Strong winds and heavy rainfall overnight have made the saturated ground ripe for felled trees, which could affect power lines. The governor and emergency operations have been deployed across the state and are on alert to respond.

Surge inundation remains a concerning threat to the southeastern North Carolina area. Ian’s approach coincides with high tide at 11:30 a.m. In effect, waterways could rise 3 to 5 feet between Little River Inlet and the Cape Fear, with the northern Cape Fear seeing anywhere from 2 to 4 feet.

Beach towns in Brunswick County are already taking precautions. Officials in Sunset Beach, located near the South Carolina border, have notified residents the surge could breach the causeway and make it impassable for possibly two hours before and after high tide, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

“During this timeframe, fire, police and EMS personnel may be unable to respond to calls on the island during this breach,” the town posted to its social media account Friday morning. “Residents and visitors on the island are requested to evacuate to the mainland prior to this potential breach, if you have concerns or health issues that may require assistance.”

Brunswick County utility customers serviced by vacuum sewer systems, such as on a portion of Sunset and Caswell beaches, are asked to conserve water Friday through Saturday, and limit pressure on the wastewater system to avoid backups. The county noted there may be periods of limited or no service, due to the surge.

“All customers are encouraged to ensure that they have a working backflow device in their plumbing drain system,” a notice from the county indicated (affected areas can be accessed here).

Oak Island and Holden Beach maintain its own system separate from the county.

The Town of Belville, located 43 miles north of Sunset near Wilmington, has declared a state of emergency. It sent a notice asking property owners, boat owners and construction sites to prepare to secure items that could endanger the area, as well as advising residents to secure outdoor furniture, building materials, or other objects.

State officials have advised those in impacted areas stay off the roads and do not drive in floodwaters or remove barriers. The worst of the storm’s effects will be felt through Friday into the evening before clearing up Saturday.

Emergency contacts and resources:

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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