Gov. Cooper declares State of Emergency

Published 9:02 am Thursday, September 7, 2017

RALEIGH – North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, early Wednesday evening, declared a State of Emergency for all 100 counties as the state prepares for almost certain impacts from Hurricane Irma early next week.

“There is a lot we still don’t know about this storm, but we do know that North Carolina can expect to feel some sort of effects as soon as early next week, and now is the time to get prepared,” Gov. Cooper said. “Wherever you live in North Carolina – from the mountains to the piedmont to the coast – you need to take this storm seriously, and you need to start preparing for some type of impact.”

Gov. Cooper said the State of Emergency will go into effect at 8 a.m. on Thursday, September 7 in order to facilitate the movement of any resources that may be needed to respond to the storm. It also waives truck weight, size and hours of service restrictions so that vehicles carrying essential supplies such as food, medicine, fuel or transporting livestock or crops can get their jobs done quickly.

While much uncertainty still exists about Hurricane Irma’s storm track, meteorologists are predicting that portions of the state could experience wind and rain from the tropical system as early as Monday.

“Our emergency response teams are seasoned and ready. They have been tested repeatedly over the past year and our colleagues are ready to respond as called,” Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks said. “But we cannot weather this storm alone. This is a tremendous storm. We need residents and visitors to ensure they are ready: check your emergency plans, restock your emergency kits, and pay close attention in the coming days to the weather forecast.”

The state’s Emergency Management team began coordinating storm preparations over the Labor Day weekend with county partners, state agencies and South Carolina, Virginia and officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They have requested a FEMA incident management team to expedite any federal assets that may be needed to respond to the storm.

State transportation officials also have placed crews on standby, been preparing their equipment and checking culverts to remove debris that may clog drainage pipes.

Cooper also encourages citizens to closely monitor the track of Irma and listen to the latest advisories from the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center, as well as state and local emergency management officials. You can also follow N.C. Emergency Management on Twitter and Facebook for the latest on Hurricane Irma. You can also get real-time traffic and weather on the ReadyNC mobile app.

Irma, a Category 5 hurricane, was packing sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts exceeding 200 mph as it battered the US Virgin Islands as of 3 p.m. on Wednesday. It was moving west, northwest at 16 mph.

Its current trek brings it close to Florida early Sunday and up the east coast of the Sunshine State. If it remains on that path, landfall could occur anywhere along the southeast coast….from northern Florida all the way into the Carolinas sometimes early to mid next week. But it’s too soon to accurately gauge how significant the storm’s impact will be.

As officials with the National Hurricane Center (NHC) pointed out, tracking a tropical system four to five days out leaves room for error. They say the actual path could be 175-to-225 miles off the current projections.

What is known is Irma is forecasted to remain within favorable atmospheric conditions and over warm waters during the next three to four days. Therefore, Irma is likely to remain a very powerful hurricane during this time, according to the NHC’s intensity forecast

Last week, Governor Cooper declared September as North Carolina Emergency Preparedness Month and urged residents and visitors to plan for future emergencies, including by downloading the free ReadyNC app for real-time weather, flooding, traffic and shelter information.

To ensure your family is storm ready:

Get your emergency kit ready. Be sure your emergency supplies kit has enough bottled water and non-perishable food to sustain each family member for three to seven days. Include a weather radio, flashlight, extra batteries, toiletries, change of clothes, blankets or sleeping bag, rain gear and appropriate footwear. Also include copies of important documents, such as birth certificates and insurance policies.

Plan for your pets. Gather supplies for your pet and put them in an easily-accessible container.

Prepare your home. Clean out gutters and clear property of debris that could damage buildings in strong winds. Supplies needed to secure your home, such as lumber and shutters, should be purchased now, and window casings pre-drilled.

Find out your flood risk. Determine if you are in a flood plain or flood-prone area.

Learn evacuation routes for your area. Listen to local officials and evacuate as instructed.