Now under tornado watch, Sampson County enacts state of emergency; 4 shelters open

Tracking the Tropics

CLINTON, N.C. (WNCN) – Sampson County opened four shelters Monday afternoon ahead of Tropical Storm Isaias’ arrival in North Carolina.

The announcement comes with Sampson County officials’ decision to enact a state of emergency Monday afternoon. There is no curfew associated with the declaration.

The moves came before a tornado watch was issued at 5 p.m. for Sampson County.

Sampson County officials issued a voluntary evacuation order for Franklin Township, more specifically the area south of Highway 411 from Harrells to Clear Run and the areas south of Highway 41, effective at 4 p.m. on Monday.

Other county residents are urged to shelter in place, stay with family or friends, or find a hotel before utilizing a shelter to help reduce the risk of potential COVID-19 exposure.

“The pandemic has created some interesting circumstances that we are not familiar with when it relates to opening up shelters or just our emergency operations center,” said Richard Carr, a spokesman for Sampson County. “We’re doing a lot of brainstorming and planning around the pandemic which causes things to be a little bit different.”

The county will limit the number of people who can stay at shelters in order to adhere to social distancing requirements. People will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and given a mask if they don’t have one, Carr said.

“It is particularly important for those who have tested positive for COVID or have had potential exposure to someone positive to shelter in place if safe to do so,” the county said in a release.

North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said Monday he wants people to follow evacuation orders.

“Don’t let concerns about COVID-19 impact your evacuation,” he said.

The shelters opened at 4 p.m.

The locations are:

  • Union High School – 1189 Kader Merritt Rd.
  • Clinton High School – 340 Indiantown Rd.
  • Fisher Drive Adult Day Health Center (special needs sheltering only)
  • Sampson County Animal Shelter, 168 Agriculture Place (pet sheltering only)

Pets, other than service animals, will not be allowed in general population shelters.

Those persons with special medical needs should contact the Office of Emergency Services at (910) 592-8996 and ask to speak with the Shelter Branch Coordinator regarding special needs sheltering.

“Isaias is expected to bring 4-5 inches of rain to Sampson County, causing both flash flooding in the northern portions of the County and river flooding in the southern portions of the County,” county officials said in a release.

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