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Coast Prepares for Arthur

Governor Pat McCrory was in Wilmington today warning those along the coast and beyond to prepare for Tropical Storm Arthur. The storm, which formed off the coast of Florida and is making its way north, is expected to strengthen into a category one hurricane by the time it reaches North Carolinas coast on Thursday. There is a tropical storm warning for the entire North Carolina coast in effect now.
 
While we all want to enjoy a fun Fourth of July weekend with friends and family, our highest priority should be safety during the storm, Governor McCrory said.  I encourage all of our coastal residents and visitors to take necessary precautions, listen to local media and use good judgment throughout the duration of the storm.
 
The governor was joined by Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata and North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry at the New Hanover County Emergency Operations Center to give an update on the forecast and storm preparations. 
 
Governor Pat McCrory has signed two Executive Orders related to the storm.  The first declares a State of Emergency for 25 coastal and adjoining inland counties to prepare for the possibility of any damage, including coastal flooding, caused by Tropical Storm Arthur.  The proclamation authorizes the use of state government resources to assist city and county governments in storm response.  The second is a waiver of various transportation rules and regulations in order to quickly restore power and expedite any debris removal.
 
The North Carolina Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been monitoring the situation and will activate Thursday morning with additional personnel on site. The State Emergency Response Team is on standby, ready to assist if needed.  SERT partners include representatives from the departments of Public Safety, Transportation, Health and Human Services and Agriculture, as well as the State Wildlife Division, Office of Emergency Medical Services, the Civil Air Patrol, the N.C. National Guard, the State Highway Patrol, Adult Correction and Swift Water Rescue teams.
 
While the current forecast does not indicate Arthur will cause major damage, we are taking this storm very seriously, said Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. Emergency management personnel, in conjunction with our federal, state and local partners, are ready to support the counties in preparation, response and recovery efforts as needed.
 
Hurricane and tropical storm watches have been posted for the North Carolina coast.  Coastal areas may see periods of heavy rains and gusty winds, rip currents, heavy surf and moderate beach erosion. Portions of the Outer Banks may experience periods of hurricane force winds as the storm passes. 
 
The North Carolina National Guard (NCNG) will have soldiers on standby ready to provide direct assistance to state emergency managers, the highway patrol and first responders.  Guardsmen are staged at the North Carolina National Guard armory in Kinston and will deploy if required.  NCNG has high water vehicles and helicopters, and can provide power generation, medical, communication and shelter support, as well as transport supplies if needed.
 
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol has placed all essential personnel on stand-by and is ready for deployment at a moments notice.  Troopers will be monitoring all major highways and will be assisting our DOT, county Emergency Management officials and local partners. 
 
The North Carolina Department of Transportation is keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Arthur and making preparations to respond quickly if needed.
 
Our crews are working diligently and are ready and prepared to help all citizens along the coast and to keep people and products moving along our transportation network, DOT Secretary Tony Tata said. I want to thank our team for their proactive efforts to prepare for this storm and to help travelers continue to safely reach their destinations.
 
Along the Outer Banks, the NCDOT will have front end loaders, bulldozers, motor graders and other equipment, and employees prepositioned at Pea Island, Buxton, Ocracoke and Kitty Hawk in Dare and Hyde counties. NCDOT has more equipment ready to mobilize if needed, as well as employees prepared to patrol N.C. 12 during and after the storm. A plan is also in place to conduct underwater inspections at Bonner Bridge as soon as conditions are safe for the divers. In the central and southern coastal counties, NCDOT crews have inspected and fueled up their equipment and are on standby to begin cleanup efforts once the storm passes.
 
The NCDOT Ferry Division will begin round-the-clock service from Ocracoke to Hatteras Islands beginning at 2 p.m. today to assist with Hyde Countys voluntary evacuation of Ocracoke Island. Service will continue until weather conditions make it unsafe to operate. Ferry tolls on the Ocracoke-Cedar Island and Ocracoke-Swan Quarter runs will be waived until the evacuation order is lifted.
 
Traffic and ferry conditions can be accessed on the ReadyNC website and mobile application for iPhone and android devices.  ReadyNC also provides information on how to prepare an emergency plan and kit, gives real-time traffic updates, weather, water levels, power outages, open shelters, flood gauges and evacuation routes.
 
Gale force winds are anticipated to arrive in Wilmington and Morehead City ports within 72 hours. Port employees are verifying ports are secured and prepared for storm conditions. 
 
North Carolina residents and visitors should listen to the local news for the latest advisories from the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center and state and local officials.  
 
Governor McCrory urges coastal residents and visitors to do the following to prepare for the storm:
 
1. Determine if you are in a storm-surge zone:  
During a hurricane watch, residents living in storm-surge zones may be ordered to evacuate.  Evacuation zones will be identified by local emergency managers through the news media.  You also should know if your home is located in a flood plain.  These areas suffer excessively from heavy rains associated with hurricanes.  Since flooding causes most hurricane-related deaths, flood plains are generally among the first areas requiring evacuation.  If you do not know the safe escape routes in your area, call the local emergency management office.
 
2. Prepare an emergency kit:  
To prepare for a hurricane or any disaster, it is best to have an emergency kit  available.  This kit should contain nonperishable food, water (one gallon/person/day) and clothing to sustain each family member for three days.  The kit should include a flashlight, radio and spare batteries.  Blankets, rain gear and appropriate footwear also are recommended.  Special considerations must be made for the young or disabled.  Remember to include baby food and medicines as appropriate. In addition, the kit should include photo copies of important family documents, such as birth certificates and insurance policies.  
 
3. Fuel cars, obtain cash and secure important documents:
Residents should fill their cars with gasoline and have enough cash on hand to last a week in case they are ordered to evacuate.  During power-outages, gas stations and ATM machines do not work.  It is also important to secure original copies of documents in a waterproof container in case of flooding.
 
4. Obtain supplies to protect the home:
If residents are ordered to evacuate, there will be little time to protect their homes from the storm.  Supplies, such as lumber and shutters, should be purchased now, and window casing pre-drilled.  Homeowners should clear their property of all debris that could damage buildings in strong winds.  Cars should be stored in the garage.
 
5. Gather supplies:
This may be the final opportunity to gather supplies from local grocery stores.  All residents should have an emergency kit with bottled water, precooked, nonperishable foods, flash lights, a battery-powered radio and paper goods.  It is also important to keep ice on hand in case the power fails.  Candles are not recommended for safety reasons.
 
The safety of North Carolinas citizens and visitors is the states number-one priority.  North Carolina tourism offices are actively working with state and local emergency management and local tourism offices to keep visitors informed in the event of an approaching storm.
 
The North Carolina Division of Tourism will have its visitor call center open 24/7 starting Thursday and through the duration of the storm. Live operators will offer the latest information and updates at 800-VISITNC (800-847-4862).

 



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