RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — The National Hurricane Center’s 11 a.m. update to its Hurricane Irma forecast continued to show that the massive storm is still a Category 5 and that North Carolina is now in Irma’s path.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency effective at 8 a.m. Thursday and at 11 a.m. Thursday, authorities announced that a Hurricane Watch has been issued for parts of Florida.
“The state is doing what we want the people of North Carolina to do and that is prepare for Hurricane Irma,” Cooper said.
North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said just after noon on Thursday the state emergency response team is developing a plan to have the right resources available once the storm passes.
“To that end, we’re going to put staging areas in Kinston, Greensboro and Asheville,” Sprayberry said.
Members of the North Carolina National Guard are also being activated to help prep for Irma.
“We’re bringing in about 310 soldiers right now, and we can flex and surge more if we need to,” Sprayberry said.
The National Guard members will offer skills including search and rescue, hasty road repair and debris removal, he said.
The Red Cross is staging supplies such as food, water, wheelchairs and medication at sites around the state, including in Fuquay-Varina, Goldsboro and Fayetteville, Wilmington and New Bern. Another Red Cross office is setting up similar sites in the western part of the state.
The organization is also working to get shelters ready for the storm.
Red Cross workers are readying across the state because it isn’t yet clear where in North Carolina the storm’s effects will be felt most strongly. As the “cone of uncertainty” in the forecast narrows as the hurricane draws nearer, the Red Cross will shift volunteers to the hardest-hit areas.
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