Gov. Bev Perdue this morning urged North Carolinians to stay vigilant as Hurricane Irene makes its way through the state. The storm made landfall earlier today near Cape Lookout and will continue to generate hurricane force winds of more than 74 miles per hour along the coast throughout the day. Tropical storm force winds will diminish overnight as the storm moves north out of the state.
“While the winds speeds have diminished, this is still a very powerful storm. Today the threat is wind, rain and storm surge. Tomorrow and Monday we have potential for flooding along some of our inland rivers,” Gov. Perdue said. “Heed the warnings from your local officials. Stay indoors until dangerous winds have passed. For those who have evacuated, listen to guidance from your local emergency management officials for when it is safe to return.”
Eighty-one shelters are open in 29 counties housing more than 7,500 evacuees. Several of those shelters are accepting evacuees with pets. Mass Care Support trailers and mobile animal trailers are on standby in several other counties, as well.
More than 160,000 power outages already have been reported, but that number is expected to increase throughout the day as the storm moves through.
Several roads are reported closed in the eastern part of the state. State ports remain closed in Morehead City and Wilmington. Airports in eastern North Carolina will remain closed through Saturday and passenger rail service in and through the state has been canceled for today, as well. Freight rail traffic also has been suspended in the eastern part of the state.
Essential food, water and other supplies are in warehouses in Tarboro and Badin and distribution points have been established in four counties to quickly dispense supplies as needed. The Division of Emergency Management has also activated its pre-arranged purchase contracts for generators and transportation assets, food and water and other items.
On Thursday, the president approved Gov. Perdue’s request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration, authorizing appropriate federal assistance to protect lives, property, public health and safety. On Wednesday, the governor declared a State of Emergency in preparation for the oncoming hurricane.
Local States of Emergency have been declared in 37 eastern and central counties, as well.
Yesterday, Gov. Perdue activated the state’s toll-free emergency information bilingual hotline to provide callers with details about Hurricane Irene as it begins to move across the region. English and Spanish-speaking people should call 1-888-835-9966. Deaf and hard-of-hearing people may call 711 (Relay N.C.)
For road and travel conditions call 511, visit www.ncdot.gov/travel or follow the N.C. Department of Transportation on Twitter at www.ncdot.gov/travel/twitter. Another option is NCDOT Mobile, a phone-friendly version of the NCDOT website. To access it, type “m.ncdot.gov” into the browser of your smartphone. NCDOT Mobile is compatible with the iPhone, Android and some newer Blackberry phones.
For updates throughout the storm, follow North Carolina Emergency Management on Twitter @NCEmergency. Facebook at www.facebook.com/NCEmergencyManagement and on the Crime Control and Public Safety website at www.nccrimecontrol.org.