Overnight News From Around The World: Wednesday, September 7

Tropical Storm Florence: 83 percent of New Hanover County homes without power

***For more updates on Saturday, click here*** 

 

Leaks reported at Trask school shelter

NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- As rains pick up across the region, leaks and pooling water have been reported at Trask Middle School, being used as one of five Hurricane Shelters in New Hanover County.

The New Hanover County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) confirmed Friday at 10:20 p.m. that roofs were leaking in a few places throughout the school, and water was observed coming under doors in some spots. EOC staff said the leaks did not pose a flooding risk, and people were being moved to dry parts of the building.

An evacuation of the center is not planned and the building remains sound, according to EOC staff.

Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday evening, but is still expected to dump just under 20 inches of rain on Southeastern North Carolina through the weekend. An estimaed 530 New Hanover County residents were staying in the county's hurricane shelters as of Friday.

-- Cammie Bellamy

>>READ MORE: Click here for complete coverage of Hurricane Florence.

NEW HANOVER UPDATES: Road clearing could begin tonight

NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- If the weather cooperates, New Hanover County officials are hopeful that efforts to clear the roads can start early Saturday morning.

County manager Chris Coudriet said during a news conference Friday afternoon that contracts are in place with the city and private businesses to begin clearing fallen trees and debris from roadways. That work will only commence of crews determine conditions are safe, but Coudriet said he was hopeful they could dispatch by 4 a.m.

In the mean time, locals are waiting for their power to be restored, a process Coudriet said Duke Energy cannot start until road clearing has begun. As of Friday, 106,000 of the counties 127,000 homes -- more than 83 percent -- were without power.

If the weather is safe later tomorrow, preliminary damage assessment teams will also head out to try ro quanitfy the toll that Hurricane Florence took on New Hanover County.

Part of that toll was evident Friday, as police and Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo announced the first deaths caused by the storm: a woman and her 8-month-old child killed by a falling tree on Mercer Avenue. A third person -- the husband and father -- was injured by the tree and taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. His condition was not available Friday evening.

The rescue and recovery process at the Mercer Street house was so precarious, emergency officials said, that a FEMA task force was called to assist.

Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous emplored the public to stay off the roads Friday evening.

"Our officers are continuing to respond to calls, and we’re basing those calls on priority," he said. "At this point we want to remind folks within the city: stay indoors. It is dangerous, there are downed power lines, there are trees, it’s a bad situation."

But Coudriet noted there was a sliver of good news Friday: the National Weather Service had lowered local rainfall projections from more than 30 inches to less than 20. That's still likely to cause significant flooding, but less disastrous than might have occured.

-- Cammie Bellamy

Wilmington, New Hanover County under curfews

WILMINGTON -- The city of Wilmington and New Hanover County will be under curfew starting tonight.

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo says the curfews will run from 10 p.m. to 6 p.m. until further notice. The decision follows similar curfews in other parts of the region, including one announced Friday morning in Brunswick County from sunset to sunrise.

The curfew prevents anyone from going outside on streets, sidewalks and any other public places, according to a Tweet from the county.

-- Tim Buckland

Fallen tree traps people in house on Mercer Avenue

WILMINGTON -- Fire crews responded to Mercer Avenue around 10:45 a.m. Thursday after a tree fell on a house and trapped residents inside.

Chief Buddy Martinette with the Wilmington Fire Department said multiple crews responded to the scene and found multiple victims.

"A tree during the height of this storm fell on the back of this house," he said on the scene. "We have some victims. We spent a fair bit of time doing a very difficult extrication of one victim who basically had the tree fall across his legs and was transported to the hospital.

Wilmington Police Department spokeswoman Linda Thompson wrote in a news release that in addition to the person taken to the hospital, two people were still inside the house as of 1 p.m.

Martinette would not confirmed any fatalities, only saying, "We still have some work to do here at the residence."

The Wilmington Fire Department has more than 160 firefighters and medics on duty today, operating on 20 engines and more vehicles.

"We've got the city and the county covered," he said.

Usually, firefighters do not respond to calls after wind speeds reach 50 mph, but Martinette said Florence didn't give them the chance to stop.

"We didn't have a chance to not go out," he said. "Lives needed to be saved almost all night long."

He confirmed they have rescued people from the homes today, as well as responded to injuries.

The rains and wind pounded the region so hard this morning, Martinette said he could not discern which building was which as he was out and about around 6 a.m.

"You couldn't even tell where you were," he said.

A federal urban search and rescue team will come on duty this afternoon to give local fire and rescue crews a break after working all night.

They will also field calls as crew work to dismantle the tree that fell on the Mercer Avenue house.

-- Hunter Ingram

Kure Beach without power, emergency response suspended

KURE BEACH -- Though all of Kure Beach is without power Friday morning, officials say the town appears to have avoided severe damage.

According to a Friday morning update from town Emergency Manager David Heglar, despite Hurricane Florence making landfall 8 miles north of town, the Kure Beach Pier was still standing as of 8 a.m. An initial check throughout town did not show any significant over-wash, Heglar wrote.

“With the wind shifting as the storm passes we do not expect significant beach front home issues, although a full assessment will occur after the storm,” he wrote. “There are a number of power lines down throughout town, with the main line that feeds the south of town broken in least two places. Duke power will not be working on this issue until it is safe for their personnel based on wind speed, and this looks like it will not commence until Saturday midday at the earliest.”

The southern end of town lost power at 2 a.m., and the remainder of homes and businesses lost electricity at 5:44 a.m. Heglar asks all residents to shelter in place, as emergency response will remain suspended until conditions improve.

Heavy rains and winds are expected throughout the day.

-- Cammie Bellamy

Limited damage in Wilmington so far

Officials stress for residents to shelter in place

NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- Despite New Hanover County authorities handling a house fire and evacuating people from damaged houses, as of 7:20 a.m. no injuries have been reported in the county.

County spokeswoman Jessica Loeper said the Emergency Operations Center just completed a shift change at 7 a.m. Among the emergencies handled overnight, she said, were a house fire within Wilmington city limits and a handful of homes damaged by trees. People in those damaged homes have been safely evacuated, and none were injured.

As of 7:20 a.m., Loeper said the county had not had to undertake any water rescues. But several roads in the county are beginning to flood, she said, including Racine Drive near the government center.

"The eye is going to be coming on us in the next hour or so, so we'll start feeling some calmer weather for a little while," Loeper said. "But the one thing we want to reiterate to everyone is do not go outside, do not start picking up debris."

Loeper said the number of New Hanover County residents without power is steadily rising.

At 2 a.m., Duke Energy estimated about 4,000 had lost electricity. By 7 a.m., she said, that had shot up to 80,000.

"It goes up every hour," she said.

-- Cammie Bellamy

Roads closed, Wilmington police have limited response

WILMINGTON -- With downed trees and powerlines closing roads throughout the county, Wilmington police say they are limited in how they can respond to emergency calls.

According to New Hanover County Emergency Management, more than a dozen local roads are closed or partially blocked Thursday morning throughout the county. Among them are several downtown Wilmington streets and parts of College Road.

For a full list of road closures in the area, click here. The list will be updated throughout the weekend.

-- Cammie Bellamy

Wilmington Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Dandron said overnight, police received numerous calls from homeowners asking them to check on their properties. Unlike the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office, which reported several arrests overnight for breaking and entering, Dandron said Wilmington police have not received reports of looting.

"Right now, the biggest thing we are stressing is DO NOT GO OUTSIDE and stay away from windows," Dandron wrote in a message. "Now that we're in the height of the storm, we are very limited in how we can respond, so please be safe."

-- Cammie Bellamy

Emergency services suspended

All emergency response operations on Carolina Beach were suspended at 11:45 Thursday, according to a release from Carolina Beach assistant town manager Ed Parvin.

"Response efforts will resume once winds fall below 50 mph and public safety officials determine the roads are safe for travel," the release said.

The release said anyone with questions can call the town hall at 910-458-2999.

-- Tim Buckland

Snow's Cut Bridge closed

Carolina Beach announced that Snow's Cut Bridge was closing to vehicle and pedestrian traffic at 10:30 p.m., according to a release from the town.

The bridge, which is the only road on or off the island, closes when sustained winds reach 45 mph.

At about 10:30, the National Weather Service's Wilmington office reported sustained winds around 30 mph with a maximum gust of 63 mph.

-- Adam Wagner

>>READ MORE: Click here for complete coverage of Hurricane Florence.

Major downtown development crane secured

WILMINGTON -- As the Port City gets battered by Hurricane Florence, the developers of the largest project the downtown area have already taken measures to secure the very active construction site.

East West Partners spent the last week shoring up the work site for River Place along Water Street, where crews are currently building a massive mixed-use development with residential, retail and parking elements.

Chief among the concerns was the more than 100-foot crane being use to move material around the site. Margee Herring, who handles communications for the project, spoke with managing partner Lucien Ellison Thursday and learned the company brought in another 500-ton crane on Monday to help disassemble the towering equipment.

The 100-foot vertical crane still stood as Florence’s winds arrived Thursday, but its horizontal arm had been removed and the base braced, she said.

To accommodate the day-long disassembly process, developers sidelined an original plan to pave Water Street before the storm arrived, effectively hardening the surface of a portion of the site instead of leaving it open to the weather.

Crews were, however, able to accelerate the process of pouring the concrete foundation on the south end of the site.

“The site will be damp and muddy, but less so now that the concrete is poured,” Herring said.

Additionally, crews worked up until Thursday morning to remove all the major equipment from the site, secure all loose materials and latch all port-a-potties to hard structures.

Crews also created a berm all around the Water Street side to keep water from infiltrating the exposed work site. Still, Herring said the developers know flooding is going to happen and the site will have to be irrigated – something the crews became familiar with during the two-week rain event earlier this summer.

“July was really good training for this project,” she said.

-- Hunter Ingram

County say ID not required for shelter entry

NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- The director of a Wilmington ministry for people in poverty says a man was turned away from a county hurricane shelter for not having ID. But New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet said the man was not denied shelter, and ID is not a requirement to receive shelter during Hurricane Florence.

Randy Evans is the founder and director of Walking Tall Wilmington, a ministry for locals in extreme poverty. As he has done during past storms, Evans set up a shelter in his home this week, boarding up the windows, getting generators running and setting up beds.

As of Thursday evening, 30 people were staying at Evans' house, and he said things were starting to get crowded. On Wednesday, Evans took two men and one woman from his shelter to a county shelter at Codington Elementary School.

Once inside, shelter staffers asked the group for ID. One man did not have his, and was asked if he could go retrieve it.

Evans said the man told him he was asked to leave and was not given information about alternative shelter options. But Coudriet said the man left the shelter on his own after a verbal exchange with staff.

"He was understandably put out," Coudriet said. "We have confirmed at all five of our shelters that no one is being turned away."

It is New Hanover County Sheriff's Office policy to check IDs at shelters, but folks who do not have IDs are not denied entry, Coudriet said. He said if the man were to return to a county shelter -- with or without ID -- he could be housed.

"We are asking people when they come to the shelters for IDs so that we can have a record of who was there," Coudriet said. "When someone comes to the shelter, we're accountable."

Evans said he feels the situation was handled poorly, and left the man feeling unwelcome. He said he plans to confront county officials about how housing-insecure people are treated during emergencies.

"I get the feeling sometimes that these individuals are viewed as numbers, like we have to quantify a life, and that’s B.S. and that's not how we’re going to get things done," Evans said. "We’ll get through this storm because I'm responsible for these individuals, but come Monday or Tuesday, this isn’t over."

News about the incident spread on social media Thursday, with some people claiming that dozens were being turned away from New Hanover County shelters. County officials said they planned to address the rumors on social media Thursday.

As of Thursday evening, Johnson Pre-K Center was the only county shelter at capacity. Trask Middle School, Codington Elementary School, Eaton Elementary School were approaching capacity, while Noble Middle School still had the most room.

-- Cammie Bellamy

>>READ MORE: Click here for complete coverage of Hurricane Florence.

High tides, storm surge and record-breaking rain

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. -- Hurricane Florence’s track is projected to align with high tides for what one expect calls “a very unique” storm.

The slow-moving storm is expected to rotate in a southwest direction over Southeastern North Carolina for at least three tidal cycles, said Rick Luettich, the director of the University of North Carolina’s Institute of Marine Sciences. High tides in Southeastern North Carolina are generally occurring around noon and midnight, with some variance from shore to shore.

“The worst of it is going to be tonight at midnight and then again tomorrow (Friday) at noon,” Luettich said, adding New Hanover County beaches will hopefully stop being affected by Friday night.

Brunswick beaches will be susceptible Saturday to high storm surges brought on by the tremendous amount of water Florence is pushing toward the shore and tidal cycles, Luettich added. Those areas, along with Myrtle Beach, will be impacted by the storm’s back side.

Luettich described three threats caused by the slow-moving storm’s surge.

First, water will be shoved up estuaries and streams, with Luettich echoing forecasters’ days-long warning that residents who live near tidal creeks and other estuaries should be prepared for more significant flooding than they’re used to.

“The longer the storm sits there, the longer it will just pump water into those areas and cause flooding inundation up into that network,” he said.

Water forcing its way inland will lead to the second problem, which is that flooding from a forecasted record-setting rainfall -- the NWS is warning 29.47 inches is possible in Wilmington, with only slightly less for surrounding areas --- will not be able to drain.

“The surge is trying to go inland, the rain is trying to go toward the ocean. … It will just back things up so the rain can’t escape. Where (rain) may have hit the land and drained off without too much impact, the rain as it falls now may be held up,” Luettich said.

With a storm that moves in a more east-to-west track -- such as 2016’s Hurricane Matthew -- the storm surge will flood barrier islands. Days later, the rainfall from inland will make its way to flood-prone areas and cause another hazard.

“In North Carolina,” Luettich said, “we’ve had flooding from both directions before, but usually they don’t come at the same time.”

The final threat will come from the pounding waves against beaches and dunes, with the long exposure potentially leaving them more likely to fail.

“The longer the beach and the dunes and the structures that are out there get pounded on by the waves from it hanging around a long time, the more we can anticipate a lot of beach erosion, a lot of dune erosion,” Luettich said. “And once we lose the dunes, of course, the structures behind it are susceptible to storm surge.”

-- Adam Wagner

Nearly 900 without power in downtown Wilmington

WILMINGTON – Hurricane Florence plunged nearly 900 customers into the dark just before 5 p.m. Thursday.

The power outage, reported on the Duke Energy outage map, was widespread for customers south of Market Street, particularly in the blocks between Third and Seventh streets nearly the ramp to the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.

The outage map reported the damage was being assessed, but estimate for restoration was available.

Another 1,119 customers lost power after 5 p.m. near the Seagate community and Cape Fear Hospital.

-- Hunter Ingram

Want a cold one in downtown? These bars have you covered

WILMINGTON -- On Wednesday, the Barbary Coast tweeted from its Twitter account, @BarbaryCoastILM, for the first time in more than two years: "We are still open #HurricaneFlorerence."

Even on Thursday afternoon, as the effects of Hurricane Florence began to be felt in downtown Wilmington, the bar hosted a couple of dozen patrons, some of who enjoyed complimentary cupcakes with their beers.

The Barbary, which is Wilmington's oldest bar and is best described as a charming dive, was immortalized in David Lynch's 1986 film "Blue Velvet," in which the actor Dennis Hopper uttered what has became its slogan: "This is it."

One tweet that called the Barbary staying open during the storm "very on brand" was liked by Hopper's fellow "Blue Velvet" actor Kyle MacLachlan.

Tweeting for the first time in three years to tell us they're still open is very On Brand for the bar that Dennis Hopper dragged@Kyle_MacLachlan to in Blue Velvet.https://t.co/yuzRRHXITJ

— Devin DiMattia (@dimattiafilms)September 13, 2018

Owner Eli Ellsworth bought the Barbary 11 years ago. He said it's become "a tradition" to stay open during storms. "It's also kind of therapy. These people have been freaking out. Where else are you gonna get booze?"

Lisa Wyare, who lives downtown, came to the Barbary because "it's one of the few places to stay open. It's nice to be out before you have to be inside for a long time."

Wyare was with Scotty Moore, who said he came because "I'm clairvoyant. I knew they'd have free cupcakes."

Two blocks up Front Street, the Irish pub Slainte had a healthy crowd as well. Owner Misha Sobol said he's got a generator and plans on staying open as long as he can.

"I'm not a Weather Channel guy," Sobol said. "What else am I gonna do, cry?"

-- John Staton

Waffle House Index reaches red

WILMINGTON -- At least one Wilmington-area Waffle House location closed Thursday afternoon as winds from Hurricane Florence began to reach the region.

A small heap of sandbags stood in the door of the Waffle House on Carolina Beach Road. A sign taped to the door read, "We plan to open as soon as the storm passes."

Dozens of restaurants and eateries have closed throughout the city, so why does it matter that Waffle House has locked its doors?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) famously monitors the menu of Waffle House -- which typically never closes, no matter the date, time or condition -- to determine the impact of a natural disaster.

If Waffle House is open and serving the full menu, the Waffle House Index -- a term made up by former FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate -- is green. A limited menu means a yellow, while Waffle Houses being closed means the index is red.

The agency also uses the index after a storm to determine how a community is bouncing back.

There are six other Waffle House locations in the Wilmington area. It was not immediately clear if they have also closed.

-- Adam Wagner

>>READ MORE: Click here for complete coverage of Hurricane Florence.

President Trump calls Wilmington Mayor Saffo

President Donald Trump surprised Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo with a phone call Thursday afternoon, ahead of Hurricane Florence's arrival in Southeastern North Carolina.

Saffo said that Trump called to assure him that the federal government is watching the storm, and to open a line of communication if and when the Port City needs aid.

"I told him that we appreciate all the efforts at the federal level," Saffo said. "I'm sure that we’re going to need some of their assistance when this thing is over. But he was very gracious, very concerned about what was happeneing here in the area. And I just told him that I appreciated his telephone call and that we’ll be in touch."

"For us down here in Southeastern North Carolina, he just said, 'Please call and just make certain that whatever we need, we get'," Saffo said.

The call came at the end of a news conference at the New Hanover County government complex midday Thursday. County officials announced that more than 515 residents are now housed in local shelters, and one, Johnson Pre-K Center, is now at capacity. More than 200 residents have also been transported outside of the county to remote shelters.

Woody White, chairman of the New Hanover County Commissioners, said people across the region have been calling and emailing the county, looking for ways to volunteer with storm recovery.

Volunteers inside of the state can dial 211 to be connected to the United Way; if you are out of state, call 910-798-3911 to be connected with the United Way of the Cape Fear area, and leave a message with details of your availability.

"We appreciate the love and prayers and solidarity of our fellow Americans and North Carolinians," White said. "It's very humbling."

County Emergency Management Director Steven Still said the storm is now expected to make landfall around Wrightsville Beach.

"Tonight around 9 p.m. is when we expect to see those winds reach hurricane strength," he said. "After it makes landfall is does continue to sit upon our region for a period of 24 hours."

Still said barrier islands and some inland areas can expect storm surge of up to 9 feet. Emergency officials, he noted, will have a limited ability to reach residents in distress over the next 72 hours.

-- Cammie Bellamy

A few decide to ride out the storm on Wrightsville

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH -- Most of Wrightsville Beach’s residents heeded the mandatory evacuation order issued by the town ahead of Hurricane Florence’s arrival. Yet, officials still ran into a handful of folks who were opting to stay while on patrol last night.

Police Chief Dan House didn’t want to sound morbid when relaying a message, but it was pretty straightforward -- provide your next of kin information now.

“We don’t know what (the conditions are) going to be and we’re going to be very limited in what we can do once this storm hits to be able to save somebody. If you decide to stay and the storm is upon us, there’s nobody to call,” House said at a press conference Thursday morning.

While the storm has been downgraded to a Category 2, the threat of heavy rain and wind will keep the island closed until further notice. House noted that once the storm passes and conditions get better, officials will use a drone to survey the damage before allowing crews to cross the bridge and get to work.

Depending on the storm’s severity, Duke Energy told House it could be up to two weeks before power gets restored to the island, depending how many poles need to be rebuilt.

That’s why House and the rest of the town’s staff are still encouraging people to leave, even as the storm inches closer to shore.

“We’ll even give them a ride off the bridge,” he said.

-- Alex Riley

Dogs, national media flood downtown streets

WILMINGTON – Georgia, Duda and Ruby stretched their legs one last time Thursday morning before Hurricane Florence made it treacherous to go outside.

The canine siblings, led by their owners Ashley Clark and Kevin Connington, took the stroll along Water Street in downtown Wilmington, some of the few residents out on the streets just hours before Florence was expected to arrive.

Of the trio, 15-year-old Georgia is a seasoned extreme weather veteran.

“She’s been through her share of hurricanes,” Clark said.

Georgia doesn’t pay much mind to storms, Clark said. It’s Duda, who is much younger, that’s still a little skittish to the loud pops of thunder.

For the humans, evacuating wasn’t really a high priority, especially as Florence gradually weakened over the past 24 hours. They don’t live in a flood zone and, therefore, said they weren’t too concerned about staying.

“I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve been through a bunch of these,” Clark said. “When it was a little bit stronger, we were a more concerned about it.”

Like Clark and Connington, nearly every resident who walked the streets of downtown Thursday morning had a dog leash in hand. They were easily outnumbered by the army of national and international news media planting cameras in front of boarded up storefronts and the Cape Fear River. Big satellite vehicles streaming their all over the world swallowed parking spots, the meters for which were covered in “Happy Holidays” bags by the city.

Among the recognizable faces were NBC News’ Lester Holt and “Good Morning America’s” Ginger Zee, who took pictures with a fan down on the Riverwalk between shots.

-- Hunter Ingram

Emergency operations center open

New Hanover County's Emergency Operations Center has activated at the county government complex, with emergency officials monitoring Hurricane Florence around the clock.

County spokeswoman Ruth Smith said more than 350 county employees will be working out of the center in the coming days. And that's not even counting sheriff's office and fire department employees, which have brought on additional staff for the hurricane. Officials from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Carolina Beach and the city of Wilmington are also on hand.

Employees are working in 12-hour shifts out of the center.

"We have made room available for their families," Smith noted. "We're going to try to keep everyone fed and cool, and it's a challenge."

The county has also set up an information hotline for residents to call with non-emergency questions. County staff can be reached at 910-798-6800.

Smith said the majority of questions Thursday have been about road conditions and access to shelters. Thursday morning, the county announced it had made additional room for people at Trask Middle, Eaton Elementary, Codington Elementary, the Johnson Pre-K Center and Noble Middle School.

"We stay very close to this room so we can know the concerns of the public," Smith said.

-- Cammie Bellamy

More room at shelters

New Hanover County officials said Thursday morning that shelters could accept more residents at Trask Middle School, Eaton Elementary School, Codington Elementary School, the Johnson Pre-K Center and Noble Middle School.

On Wednesday, officials said some of those shelters were at capacity, but in a statement early Thursday, county officials said they were “able to mobilize additional resources to accommodate the need for shelter space.”

"Those seeking emergency shelter should bring their own blankets/pillows, prescription medications and other necessary items. No alcohol, illegal drugs, or weapons are permitted. There will be limited food service available for people seeking shelter," county officials said in a statement.

Kure Beach, Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach are under mandatory evacuation orders. Residents of the city of Wilmington and the rest of New Hanover County "are strongly encouraged to relocate to locations inland," the statement said.

The county has opened a hotline for residents with questions about evacuations or shelters at (910)798-6800.

Shelters at capacity, more open

With inland and New Hanover County shelters at capacity, officials have announced more are opening.

The final buses from New Hanover County for Raleigh will leave at 6 p.m. from the west entrance of the New Hanover County Government Center, 230 Government Center Drive, and the Johnson Pre-K Center, 1100 McRae St. Residents are encouraged to arrive 30 minutes before the bus departs.

These buses will go to Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 2825 University Parkway, Winston-Salem. Residents are advised to bring bedding, prescription medications and other necessities.

While the Winston-Salem shelter does not allow pets, residents can bring them and drop them off at a pet shelter next door. Pets should be brought in crates with food and vaccination records.

Wednesday, Eaton Elementary School also opened as a shelter. County Manager Chris Coudriet announced Wednesday that the county had opened its fifth and final shelter at Noble Middle School at 6 p.m.

Pets will not be admitted at Noble, and Coudriet said the county cannot guarantee sustained power at that site.

Shelters at capacity in the county include Johnson Pre-K Center and Trask Middle School, as well as Garner High School, Knightdale High School and Southeast Raleigh High School.

Codington Elementary School opened at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, but was at capacity by 4:30.

With Florence expected to knock out internet services in parts of the region, Spectrum and Charter are also taking pro-active measures to keep people connected.

The company has activated 5,100 wi-fi hotspots in areas expected to be affected by the Hurricane Florence, including Wilmington.

All users can access the hotspots free of charge, the locations of which can be found at www.spectrum.com/wifi-hotspots. To connect your device, look for the "SpectrumWiFi” network under your device’s WiFi settings.

Charter has also made the wi-fi hotspots available in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Raleigh and Durham.

To see a list of county shelters, click here.

>>READ MORE: Click here for complete coverage of Hurricane Florence.

Getting back onto Pleasure Island

PLEASURE ISLAND -- Hurricane Florence hasn't even arrived yet, but local officials are already letting evacuated residents know the re-entry protocol after it moves on.

Readmittance to Carolina Beach after the storm will require a Town Identification card, which residents could have picked up on there way out of town. Kure Beach residents will need to have their town decal in order to obtain readmittance into their respective communities.

For those residents who do not have those items, they can be obtained at the Masonboro Commons Shopping Center at 6400 Carolina Beach Road after the storm passes and re-entry is allowed. There will also be a temporary mobile office issues these items to residents behind the McDonald's.

Kure Beach residents are asked to use the right lane as they enter town and take Dow Road.

Anyone with questions is asked to contact Town Hall at 910-458-2999.

Emergency preparations

New Hanover officials anticipate needing food, water and supplies for up to 60,000 people after Hurricane Florence roars through the Wilmington region, officials said at a briefing at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday.

"That's what our staff and our experts have indicated is necessary," said Woody White, chairman of the county commissioners. "There will be three locations that will be announced at the appropriate time staged geographically around the county where folks will present and have access to food and water and tarps."

"The idea is that they will have access to food and water during the most critical time after the storm," he said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has established incident support bases at Fort Bragg and in South Carolina to assist state and local governments as they respond to Hurricane Florence.

"This is expected to be a devastating storm," said FEMA spokesman John Mills.

Mills said the bases will be available to provide supplies, including fuel, generators, water, food and cots, at the request of the state government. He said FEMA also has 15 search and rescue teams available to respond with local emergency officials.

White said a significant number of the county's residents "have listened" to both voluntary and mandatory evacuations.

"The storm is going to be pretty bad; a lot of damage. People are going to be hurt," he said. "It's going to be tough. But we know that we are as prepared as you can possibly be for what Mother Nature has in store."

Flights cancelled

Several flights have been cancelled coming into and departing from Wilmington International Airport on Wednesday have been cancelled, with the airlines likely suspending flights after Wednesday, said Gary Broughton, deputy director of the airport.

Broughton said United Airlines' last flight will be its 12:45 p.m. run to Chicago and American Airlines' last departure will be at 6:08 p.m. to Charlotte.

After that, "they will have nothing else in or out" during the duration of Hurricane Florence, Broughton said. The airlines have indicated they may resume service Saturday, he said.

Delta, which has its last scheduled flight of Wednesday at 6:20 p.m. to Atlanta, was still formulating its plans for after that flight, Broughton said.

Additionally, the airport's rental car companies are offering one-way rentals Wednesday, he said.

Once the airlines have all decided their time to shut down, the airport will "start tying down jet bridges and sealing doors," he said. Broughton said the airport wants to make sure its runways and taxiways can be open to accommodate flights carrying emergency supplies even if the terminal remains closed.

New Hanover opens another Wilmington shelter

WILMINGTON -- New Hanover County has opened an additional shelter at the Johnson Pre-K Center.

The shelter at Trask Middle School is at capacity, according to a release from the county.

Like other evacuation centers in the county, the center at 1100 McRae St. will require evacuees to bring their own blankets, pillows, medication and other necessary items.

Officials added that evacuees should be prepared to relocate out of the county if the storm situation requires it.

Florence, under the latest forecast, is expected to dump more than 20 inches of rain on parts of New Hanover and Pender counties.

Residents of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach, are under a mandatory evacuation order. Residents of Wilmington, and all of New Hanover County who live in low-lying areas where flooding and storm surge are a factor, are strongly encouraged to relocate to locations inland.

Source : http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20180912/new-hanover-updates-house-fire-some-evacuations-overnight

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