Craven County residents are being urged to take preparations in advance of Hurricane Florence, a storm forecasters are predicting could be one of the most severe to hit North Carolina in decades.
A mandatory evacuation has been issued for all of Craven County effective at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. County officials are encouraging all Craven County residents in all areas to self-evacuate due to Hurricane Florence and its potential impact of extreme high winds, extreme storm surge, extreme rainfall and flooding.
Craven County declared a state of emergency effective at noon Monday. The city of New Bern as well as others in the county have also declared states of emergency.
Craven County parks and convenience sites were to be closed and remain closed until conditions allow them to be reopened.
Craven County Government Emergency Management updates will appear on the Craven County website at www.cravencountync.gov, on the Craven County Facebook page @cravencounty and the Craven County Emergency Management Twitter account @cravencountyem.
A mandatory evacuation notice for Pamlico County took effect at 3 p.m. Tuesday. The county will be busing residents to shelters in other counties. Those needing transportation will need to be at Pamlico Community College, located at 5049 NC Hwy.306 in Grantsboro no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Pamlico Community College will also act as a shelter beginning at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Those seeking shelter at the college should bring only clothes, hygiene products, sleeping supplies and small personal items.
The Jones County government also issued a mandatory evacuation for its citizens Tuesday afternoon.
"There will be a period of time during this storm that we will be limited and/or unable to respond to emergency calls. Heeding this evacuation order will ensure the personal safety of all our citizens and first responders," wrote Jones County Sheriff Danny Heath.
As of Tuesday morning, Florence was centered more than 900 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, moving west-northwestward. There remains some uncertainty where exactly the eye of Florence will make landfall late Thursday or Friday, which will determine what part of the coastline experiences the worst wind and storm-surge impacts. As of 11 a.m Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center was predicting that the eye of the storm is expected to hit the coast over Sneads Ferry.
The track had shifted 18 miles southward from an earlier advisory, which suggested that the storm would make landfall at Swansboro.
Florence underwent rapid intensification Sunday into Monday, when its winds jumped from 75 mph to 130 mph.
As of Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center was predicting 15 to 20 inches of rain falling in all or parts of Craven and Pamlico counties, which also face an elevated tornado threat. Nearby counties like Pender, Beaufort, Pitt, Greene and Lenoir could see 10 to 15 inches of rain.
According to the National Hurricane Center, cities and towns that lie within the most threatened zone, including New Bern, Kinston, Jacksonville, Greenville, and Morehead City, could face widespread “power and communication outages, impassable roads filled with debris and numerous large trees snapped and uprooted along with fences and roadway signs blown over.”
According to Stanley Kite, Craven County Emergency Services director, areas of the county that should be especially prepared for flooding include Fairfield Harbour, Adams Creek Road and Clubfoot Creek Road in eastern Craven County, the Oaks Road/Glenburnie Road corridor and Brice’s Creek Road near Merchant’s Grocery in New Bern, and portions of River Bend. Other flood prone areas in the New Bern area include Duffyfield, Woodrow, North 2nd Avenue, North Hills Drive, Cooper’s Landing, Hazel Avenue and Attmore Drive.
Storm surge maps using information from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other sources predict a Category 4 hurricane could cause storm surge of up to nine feet in areas east of Neuse Boulevard and south of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Other areas at risk for extreme storm surge include Taberna off U.S. 70 and along Slocum Creek in Havelock.
Gov. Roy Cooper said his state was "in the bullseye" of the storm and urged people to "get ready now."
President Trump late Monday approved an emergency declaration for North Carolina, which authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to coordinate disaster relief efforts for “the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population,” a White House statement said.
The Red Cross has recommended 10 steps residents can take now to be prepared if the storm makes it unsafe to stay home:
Follow the instructions of officials and evacuate if told to do so.
Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
If you don’t have a car, or can’t use your vehicle, plan on how you will leave the area.
If you have a car, keep the gas tank full if an evacuation order is possible. Don’t let the tank go below half full in case gas stations are unable to pump gas.
Decide where you would go and what route you would take to get there. This could be a motel, the home of a friend or relative a safe distance away, or an evacuation shelter. Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to find shelter information and weather and emergency alerts for more than 35 different situations.
If you have time, let someone outside of the region know you are evacuating and where you are going. Leave a note saying when you left and where you plan to go.
Wear sturdy shoes and protective clothing.
Be alert for road hazards such as downed trees, flooding, etc. Do not drive onto a flooded road.
Make sure you have locations and maps saved on devices such as cell phones, GPS units and paper.
Don’t forget your pets. If it’s not safe for you to stay home, it’s not safe for them either. Prepare a phone list of pet-friendly motels and animal shelters located along your evacuation route. Keep in mind only service animals are usually allowed in shelters.