Pamlico County is calling for a voluntary evacuation of anyone living in a low-lying or flood plain area in advance of Hurricane Matthew.
“We will try to get the word out through our 911 call system,” said County Manager Tim Buck.
The county hoped to have National Guard troops on hand by Friday night, along with swift rescue boats through the state.
“But, there is a point of the rain and wind that we can’t send people out into harm’s way, which is the reason people should seriously heed the voluntary evacuation,” he said.
The county routinely brings these resources in during hurricanes and other major storm events.
Buck said large trucks and boats were used extensively to rescue stranded residents during 2011’s Hurricane Irene.
The county also planned to open its lone shelter at Pamlico Community College at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
Residents can get information and register their names on the county’s web page: pamlicocounty.org.
Craven County has declared a state of emergency and plans to open four shelters — Havelock High, Brinson Elementary, Ben Quinn Elementary (pet friendly) and Vanceboro Farm Life Elementary, as shelters at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Those coming to a shelter should bring their own food, supplies, medicine and personal items such as pillows and blankets.
Diane Miller, the Oriental town manager, said preparations were completed by around noon with the closing of the Town Dock on Hodges Street. The Town Dock II on South Avenue was also closed.
Water was already over parts of Hodges Street and other low-lying areas in town, which often happens during storms.
The Oriental Neuse River level was 1.8 feet above normal at 12:25 p.m. Friday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Flood stage was listed at four feet. Water levels were expected at 2 to 5 feet higher than normal, according to the National Weather Service.
“Our water is up on the harbor and we have had steady northeast wind all week,” Miller said. “It is actually down from where it was, but we expect it to come back up and it gets compounded when you added 10 inches of rain. We will just buckle down and will wait for it to pass and hope we get a southwest wind and push a lot of it (water) out. If we get a southwest, we will be good.”
She said the usual precautions were taken such as filling all town vehicles with fuel, removing trash cans and prepping generators, as well conference calls with state and Pamlico County officials.
“The county is on top of it,” she said. “Their resources are staged strategically to be able to move in as soon as the storm passes if there is a need, including big trucks and swift water boats.”
In New Bern, Grand Marina Dockmaster Doug Walker and his staff were finishing up securing and moving some of the expected 200 boats docked behind the Hilton.
“We’re doubling up lines, securing topsides and moving anything that the wind could carry away,” he said.
He said that staff would be on hand during whatever weather comes through during the storm to double-check on boats.
“We’ve had boats come in to weather the storm,” he said of the 234-slip marina. “We are considered a safe harbor. If everyone who made reservations comes we should have close to 200 boats.”
Around the corner from the dockmaster’s office, the Satterfield brothers — Gilford, Dale and Ray — sat on the DoubleTree by Hilton Deck overlooking the Grand Marina at midmorning Friday, discussing whether or not to cut short their four-day visit from Deleware.
Gilford’s son CWO3 Gilford O. Jr. had a retirement ceremony Friday afternoon at Cherry Point, ending a 23-year career.
The family made reservations for a celebration dinner Friday night at Persimmons on the New Bern waterfront.