Gov. Cooper activates National Guard to help with winter storm cleanup

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Roy Cooper said he has activated the North Carolina National Guard to help with tree and debris removal as more rainfall is expected Thursday afternoon into evening.

As Cooper took the podium at 2 p.m., he said there are 23,000 customers without power due to frozen precipitation – most in the western and northern part of the state.

“With rainfall expected this afternoon and evening, there is a serious threat for river flooding and flash flooding in the eastern half of the state,” Cooper said. “This is especially true at the Tar River near Greenville and the Lumber River near Lumberton. We must take this weather seriously.”

To help with that threat, Cooper activated 40 members of the National Guard as well as declared a state of emergency.

Those members are stationed in North Wilkesboro, Charlotte and Rockingham, according to director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation said all major roads in the state remain open.

The transportation department has 111 members out to keep the roadways open.

He went on to discuss Senate Bill 37, which was passed by the Senate and House and is awaiting his signature to become law.

SB37 would require public schools to offer in-person learning.

As of Thursday, 91 of the 115 public school systems in the state have returned to in-person learning.

“By mid-March, 95 percent of our school districts plan to provide in-person instruction. This’ll serve 96 percent of the state’s students. Many are going back because we’ve encouraged local school systems to do so.

“I’ve communicated with legislative leaders that I can sign legislation requiring all school districts to return to the classroom if it requires compliance with DHHS health safety guidance for schools and protects the ability of state and local leaders to respond to emergencies,” he said.

Cooper said is encouraged by the decline in COVID-19 numbers.

“For the first time since late November, the number of people hospitalized in North Carolina due to the virus has dropped under 2,000,” he said.

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