RALEIGH–With much uncertainty as to where the massive and powerful Hurricane Irma will impact North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for all 100 counties as the state prepares for almost certain impacts from the storm expected to strike 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,” 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.”
The state of emergency will go into effect at 8 a.m. today (Thursday) 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.
“Our emergency response teams are seasoned and ready,” Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks said. “They have been tested repeatedly over the past year and our colleagues are ready to respond as called, 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 the states of South Carolina and Virginia. They have requested a Federal Emergency Management Agency incident management team to expedite federal assets that may be needed to respond to the storm.
State transportation officials also have placed crews on standby, have been preparing their equipment and checking culverts to remove debris that may clog drainage pipes.
Locally, the Ocracoke Advisory Control Group will begin meeting tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon, according to Donnie Shumate, Hyde County public information officer.
This group, under the leadership of Hyde County EMS Director Justin Gibbs and composed of various government officials and business owners, gathers information from a variety of sources and advises the Hyde County commissioners about possible evacuations.