GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Historic flooding is expected as the latest storm track for Hurricane Matthew shifts further north and west.
That’s according to North Carolina governor Pat McCrory and other state leaders.
“What we feared is now happening in North Carolina,” said Governor McCrory. “The immediate concern from Hurricane Matthew is life threatening rain accumulation that has the potential for North Carolina to see the worst flooding since Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Our resources are in place and we are ready to respond. Be prepared, be careful and be safe.”
The tropical system’s greatest impacts are expected starting early Saturday morning with heavy rainfall, storm surge and winds across eastern and central portions of the state.
Southeastern inland locations around the I-95 Corridor could see up to 10 inches of rain while northeastern sections of the state could see 5 to 10 inches of rain further exacerbating recent flooding in Bertie County and the surrounding areas.
The strongest winds are expected Saturday through Sunday afternoon, with sustained winds across southeastern North Carolina of 50 to 60 miles per hour and gusts close to the coast up to 85 miles per hour. Governor McCrory said those winds coupled with wet ground will likely esult in widespread downed trees and power outages.
Storm surge from Cape Fear to Salvo is expected to be between 2 and 4 feet. Officials said Matthew will also bring with it significant beach erosion and overwash in coastal communities.
A Hurricane Watch has been declared from Surf City to Cape Lookout, and Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect from Surf City to Duck, including Pamlico and Albemarle sounds.
Governor McCrory’s request for a disaster declaration by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was accepted today for 66 North Carolina counties where the storm is forecast to have the greatest impacts. The declaration expedites federal assistance for emergency protective measures.
The governor on Friday urged caution along the Outer Banks as state transportation officials are expecting the storm to impact N.C. Hwy 12 on the north end of Ocracoke Island and Hatteras. N.C. Department of Transportation officials have staged equipment at those locations as well as Buxton, Pea Island and Kitty Hawk.
The state’s Ferry Division has already suspended operations between Ocracoke Island and the mainland and anticipates suspending operations on the Ocracoke-Hatteras route Saturday morning.
All state parks east of I-95 are now closed and will remain so until at least Sunday, the governor said.
Governor McCrory emphasized that state emergency response officials are prepared to respond. The State Highway Patrol has placed all essential personnel on standby and is ready for deployment at a moment’s notice based on the storm’s track. Additional state troopers have been sent to Wilmington and Raleigh and additional troopers are on call across the state. The North Carolina National Guard has deployed nearly 180 troops and 68 high water vehicles.
Swift Water Rescue teams have been deployed to Bladen, Craven, Martin, Brunswick, Pamlico, Camden and Pasquotank counties.
Additionally, three Helo-Aquatic Rescue Teams are staged in western North Carolina. Chainsaw crews are now in Jones, Camden, Pasquotank, and Moore counties and at regional coordination centers. North Carolina Wildlife boat teams have deployed to Williamston, New Bern and Elizabethtown. Generators, sandbags, cots, bottled water and tarps have been sent to eastern counties and generators sent to central counties.
Governor McCrory said North Carolina has also deployed resources to help neighboring states to the south. North Carolina has sent two Swift Water Rescue teams and one Helo-Aquatic Rescue Team to South Carolina. At the request of Florida Governor Rick Scott, North Carolina has also deployed a mobile disaster hospital, as well as medical evacuation buses and teams to assist with relief efforts.
For more information about Hurricane Matthew and how to prepare, go to ReadyNC.org. You can also get real-time traffic and weather on the ReadyNC mobile app. Follow N.C. Emergency Management on Twitter and Facebook for the latest on Hurricane Matthew.
For those needing Hurricane Matthew information, call 2-1-1. The statewide information line can provide callers with nearby shelter, housing, and other storm-related details.
The governor on Thursday directed the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division to move several of its ships out of harm’s way as Hurricane Matthew moves closer to the southeastern coast. This will require alternate schedules on several ferry routes:
The M/V Fort Fisher is being moved to safe harbor in Cherry Branch. The route will begin a one-boat schedule effective immediately:
From Southport (Weekdays): 7:45 a.m., 9:15, 10:45, 12:15 p.m., 1:45, 3:15, 4:45, 6:15.
From Fort Fisher (Weekdays): 8:30 a.m., 10, 11:30, 1 p.m., 2:30, 4, 5:30, 7.
From Southport (Weekends): 9:15 a.m., 10:45, 12:15 p.m., 1:45, 3:15, 4:45, 6:15.
From Fort Fisher (Weekends): 10 a.m., 11:30, 1 p.m., 2:30, 4, 5:30, 7.
Ocracoke Island remains under a mandatory evacuation order for visitors. Only residents, property owners, vendors, and critical infrastructure providers with proper documentation will be allowed access to Ocracoke Island. So far, ferries have evacuated more than 1,100 people from Ocracoke.
On Thursday and Friday, the ferry division will move several of its Hatteras ferries to safe harbor in Manns Harbor and Cherry Branch. As of Friday, Oct. 7, the Hatteras-Ocracoke route will run a limited schedule:
From Hatteras: 5 a.m., 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, noon, 1 p.m., 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, midnight.
From Ocracoke: 4:30 a.m., 6:30, 7:30, 8:30, 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30 p.m., 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, 6:30, 7:30, 9:30, 10:30, 12:30 a.m.
Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach:
This route is currently not operating due to high water levels on the Neuse River.
All other routes will run their regular schedules as long as weather conditions permit.
For real-time updates on schedule changes, follow the North Carolina Ferry System on Twitter at @NCDOT_Ferry.