300 from NC National Guard activated, rescue crews on standby as Dorian looms

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — There are already mandatory evacuations at the North Carolina Outer Banks and Governor Roy Cooper is telling people elsewhere in the state to prepare.

In fact, the state’s Emergency Operations Center began round-the-clock monitoring of the storm Monday morning as Hurricane Dorian’s track includes North Carolina.

As the forecast has shifted over the past week, Cooper really wants to make sure that people realize how dangerous this storm could be here.

Cooper said he’s activated 300 members of the National Guard to help with preparations and storm response.

“This thing could plow right through North Carolina. It could be a very dangerous storm,” Cooper said Sunday. “Whatever comes, we will be ready.”

Search and rescue crews statewide have been put on standby ahead of Dorian, preparing to surge into the areas of need at a moment’s notice.

The National Park Service said Monday it’s closed visitor centers and museums at the southern end of the Outer Banks. North Carolina’s state ferry division shuts down its express passenger ferry to isolated Ocracoke Island Monday evening. Cape Lookout National Seashore and visitor services on Ocracoke close Tuesday.

North Carolina National Guardsmen help a man during Hurricane Matthew. Photo by Staff Sgt. Johnathan Shaw from NC National Guard.

In the region closest to the storm steaming up from the southeast, Brunswick County schools are closing around noon Tuesday so families can prepare for Dorian. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington canceled classes for this week and told students to evacuate by Tuesday evening.

State Emergency Management Meteorologist Katie Webster said Monday that Dorian is expected to pick up its speed as it churns north along the East Coast. Webster says Dorian could drop 5 to 10 inches of rain on North Carolina, with points along the coast getting a foot or more. That’s about half the maximum rainfall totals during Florence last September.

State leaders are getting constant updates from the National Hurricane Center, and both Cooper and State Emergency Manager Mike Sprayberry say that now is the time to stock up on batteries, water, and to get inland to safety.

“We’ve been coordinating with our counties and FEMA to make sure that folks that are currently in travel trailers and mobile home units are being looked out for,” said Sprayberry. “We want everybody to know what’s coming. We expect to start feeling impacts here as early as Wednesday night.”

NC National Guard crews responding during Hurricane Matthew. NC National Guard photo

FEMA and Department of Defense liasons are on the way to Raleigh to help coordinate the disaster response.

“My message today is this: North Carolina has to take this seriously. Be ready,” Cooper said Sunday.

He’s urging people to be ready for potential power outages and to prepare emergency packs.

Cooper said he’s signed two waivers. One is for relief/supply vehicles to be able to move out of state and the second is for farmers to be able to move crops out in heavier loads and protect livestock before the storm arrives.

Storm surge in the Bahamas is 18 to 23 feet above normal tide levels with higher destructive waves — reportedly Grand Bahama International Airport is under 5 feet of water.

Dorian will turn to the northwest late today and early Tuesday, then accelerate as it moves along the southeastern coast of the U.S. The 5 a.m. Monday forecast track continues to include much of North Carolina in the “cone of uncertainty,” with a possible landfall brush with the Outer Banks Thursday night.

The Emergency Operations Center opened at 7 a.m. Monday.

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