The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday March 21st

Fayetteville issues mandatory evacuations amid flooding risk

<p>A home in Windsor airs out along with all its contents after it was hit in 2016 by Hurricane Matthew.&nbsp;</p>
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A home in Windsor airs out along with all its contents after it was hit in 2016 by Hurricane Matthew. 

Update 1:41 p.m.: Cumberland County, the city of Fayetteville and the town of Wade have issued mandatory evacuation orders for those within a mile of the banks of the Cape Fear River and the Little River as the risk of flooding increases.

"While the storm appears on the surface to be not as intense as expected, this is not the case," according to a statement from the Fayetteville Police Department. "The worst is yet to come, as the flood waters from other areas are accumulating north of the county and filling the river basins beyond their capacities." 

Update 5:27 p.m.: Gov. Roy Cooper announced in his afternoon briefing that UNC has agreed to operate a mass shelter on schools grounds to aid hurricane victims. The shelter will open on Saturday.

Update Friday 12:45 p.m.: The federal government has sent resources to North and South Carolina in preparation for Hurricane Florence's arrival.

3,800 federal employees, including 1,000 from FEMA, are working with state officials to respond to the storm. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has also sent 560 employees to respond to medical emergencies in the states.

The U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Department of Homeland Security are also ready to assist in restoring power and protecting nuclear power plants.

Update 5:26 p.m.: Gov. Roy Cooper requested an additional federal disaster declaration Thursday to expedite the process of receiving aid for hurricane recovery.

"The additional declaration would provide federal help with debris removal as well as FEMA search and rescue teams, disaster medical teams, hazardous material clean up assistance, meals, generators, fuel and more," he said in a press release.

Update 5:23 p.m.: Orange County announced Tuesday afternoon it will use Smith Middle School and C.W. Stanford Middle Schools as shelters for Hurricane Florence. The shelters will open at 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

Update 12:18 p.m.: Gov. Cooper reported Tuesday the federal government granted N.C. a federal disaster declaration for Hurricane Florence.

Update 6:25 p.m.: The N.C. Congressional Delegation sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Monday evening endorsing Gov. Roy Cooper's state of emergency declaration.

Update 5:52 p.m.: The Town of Hillsborough issued a press release Monday afternoon alerting Orange County residents to the severity of the hurricane.

"Heavy and prolonged rainfall forecasted from the storm later this week is expected to cause life-threatening, freshwater flooding across central North Carolina, with 7 to 10 inches of rain and possibly up to 20 inches in some areas if the storm lingers," the Town said in the release. "Wind damage in the Hillsborough area could exceed the damage sustained during Hurricane Fran in 1996."

The press release also said the town and the Orange Rural Fire Department are taking the necessary precautions.

Hurricane Florence is projected to reach the coast of North Carolina on Tuesday. As of 4 p.m. on Monday, the storm is a Category 4 hurricane, indicating winds from 131 to 155 mph, with the potential to cause significant loss of life and property.

According to a report from the National Hurricane Center Monday at 12 p.m., an NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicates that Florence is continuing to rapidly strengthen.

Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency and requested federal resources ahead of the storm.

“I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments," Cooper said in his letter. “Also, supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives and to protect property, public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of disaster.” 

The letter requested generators, food, water, shelter supplies and multiple means of evacuation and medical assistance.

The Town of Chapel Hill is also preparing resources to respond to any storm damage. Ran Northam, community safety communication specialist for the Town of Chapel Hill, commented on the Town’s current preparation in an email this morning.

“Regular practices of Town staff ahead of storms include — but are not limited to — making sure vehicles and equipment are properly maintained and fueled and checking known areas of town that are prone to flooding," Northam said in an email. 

Areas around Wilmington, N.C. are expected to receive storm conditions in the next 24 hours. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has issued an evacuation of the campus. Classes were cancelled beginning at 12 p.m. Monday.  

“In a voluntary evacuation, students are encouraged, but not required, to leave campus for a safer location,” UNC Wilmington said in their press release.

Both the CVS and Walgreens on Franklin Street are running low on cases of water bottles. The majority of their remaining water inventory is in large or small bottles.

A representative from Walmart said that the store is more busy than usual and they are running out of supplies. 

"I know we don't have water, we don't have any bread or bathroom tissues. Like that, we're running out  that," the representative said.

Cooper signed two executive orders to help the state prepare for Hurricane Florence.

He signed Executive Order No. 53 Monday, which waved fuel vapor regulation in order to ensure an adequate fuel supply for evacuation efforts.

“Responding to a storm of this ferocity take strong cooperation between local, state and federal government along with utilities, volunteer groups and other partners,” Cooper said. “We are praying for the best, while working together to be ready for the worst.”

Executive Order No. 54, issued on Tuesday, ordered a mandatory evacuation of N.C. islands.

For more information on emergency resources provided by Orange County, go here.


Lauren Talley, David Saff and Anna Pogarcic contributed reporting.

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