BERTIE COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — North Carolina is preparing for impacts from Hurricane Matthew.
The Bertie County Sheriff is asking those who live in low-lying areas, especially in the Long Branch community near Colerain, to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Matthew. Windsor House patients are being relocated.
A shelter will open at Bertie County High School at 5 p.m. Friday. A shelter has also been set up in Elizabeth City at Knobbs Creek Recreation Center, 200 E. Ward Street. It will open at 8 a.m. Saturday. More shelters are expected to open Friday night and tomorrow.
Officials in Elizabeth City, Pasquotank and Camden counties have declared a state of emergency, which will go in effect at 12 a.m. Saturday. An Emergency Operations Center will open Saturday morning at 8:00.
Gates County will have a state of emergency in effect at 8:00 a.m. Saturday. There are no curfews or restrictions that go along with this declaration, and alcohol sales will not be affected. An evacuation team will be staffed at an Emergency Operations Center starting at noon Saturday. Around then, officials will determine whether or not a shelter is necessary. A shelter will be opening for residents in low lying areas at 3:00 p.m. at Gates County High School. Residents are required to bring bedding, medication, and snacks. Pets are not allowed in the general population shelter.
Emergency Management officials in Dare County encouraged visitors Friday to leave the area, and said travel to the area should be postponed “until conditions improve.”
Residents and visitors are being urged to heed several warnings, including:
- Relocate to higher ground if you are in a low-lying area or somewhere prone to flooding.
- Take steps to protect personal property by moving to higher ground.
- Stay out of the ocean due to high threat of rip currents
Bertie County officials expect to see more major flooding, similar to what the area saw last month after rain dumped on the region for several days straight. WAVY Meteorologist Jeremy Wheeler said neighborhoods saw anywhere from 5 to 17 inches of rain.
Governor Pat McCrory said in a news conference Friday that the most concerning part of Matthew is life-threatening rain accumulation.
The latest forecasts are calling for winds of between 50 and 60 miles per hour, with possible higher gusts. The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory, which is in effect from 6 p.m. Saturday to 2 p.m. Sunday. Storm surge totals could reach 2 to 6 feet.
McCrory’s office says the Cashie River, which was significantly flooded in September, is already approaching flood stage level. The governor also says this storm has the potential to cause the worst flooding since Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
The North Carolina National Guard has about 180 troops, swift water rescue teams and 68 high water vehicles staged and ready to respond in the eastern part of the state.
Bertie County officials say they have secured aid from North Carolina Emergency Management and an overheard support team is in the area to help throughout the storm.
Windsor rescue responses will be coordinated by the fire department.
A medical bus from Currituck County deployed to Elizabethtown, North Carolina, to stage for possible storm response. North Carolina Emergency Management requested the bus, which is maintained by Currituck County Fire and EMS, to respond.
The bus can be used to evacuate nursing homes or other healthcare facilities. Two paramedics, April Elmore and Jamie Styron, are staffing the bus.
NCDOT says they have 466 employees, 146 pieces of equipment and 244 chainsaws prepared for hurricane response.
Matthew has prompted NCDOT to suspend ferry operations to and from Ocracoke Island on the Pamlico Sound routes after the 4 p.m. departure from Ocracoke to Cedar Island on Friday. The final run from Ocracoke to Swan Quarter departed at 1:30 p.m. Officials expect to suspend operations on the Ocracoke-Hatteras route sometime Saturday morning.