Onslow County residents are split down the middle when it comes to storm prep.
Some are buying so much water they need multiple carts to take it to the car. Others are waiting to see what the storm is going to do before making any plans for their pantries.
“There’s still a lot of uncertainty in where the actual track will go,” said Tom Lonka, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Morehead City.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Hurricane Matthew was between Haiti and Cuba and was still a category 4 with 145-miles-per-hour winds, Lonka said. The hurricane had a 300-mile radius and was moving 10-miles-per-hour.
That was enough for Brandon Floyd to hear. In fact, he was prepared before Matthew made landfall in Haiti.
On Monday he’d brought home ten 40-pack cases of water for his family of six since they typically go through a case every two days, he said.
He also purchased six 1-gallon jugs of water as well as paper towels, paper plates and trash bags. At home, he already had about eight flashlights so his family members could each keep one close by in case the power goes out, plus a couple of backups.
Floyd, of Swansboro, delivers bread for an independent contractor to Jacksonville stores and said Tuesday he was getting calls from Food Lion, Sam’s Club, Family Dollar, Dollar General and Piggly Wiggly for more bread in preparation for the coming storm.
Floyd said he’s been through storm scares and he’s been through the real thing, but either way the items he stocked up on weren’t going to expire any time soon. He could still get use out of them whether Matthew makes a permanent name for himself in North Carolina or not.
Erring on the side of caution, Swansboro Mayor Scott Chadwick issued a State of Emergency for the coastal town on Tuesday to go into effect immediately, only being lifted when it’s rescinded in writing, according to the proclamation.
Section VIII of the proclamation said the mayor urges citizens of Swansboro to “voluntarily restrict their appearance in public” except for law enforcement, officials and emergency personnel.
Pine Knoll Shores joined Swansboro in declaring a state of emergency later in the day.
Significant impacts of the hurricane are likely and expected in North Topsail Beach, according to a release from Assistant Town Manager Carin Faulkner.
“Potential impacts include: dangerous and potentially life threatening storm surge and high surf, damaging strong winds that could produce prolonged power outages, heavy rainfall and flash flooding, tornadoes, and rip currents,” Faulkner wrote.
The town plans to stop issuing re-entry passes today at 5 p.m., according to Faulkner.
But at the pumps, it was business as usual for some, an uptick in traffic for others.
Workers at the Kangaroo Express on Onslow Drive reported hearing little talk of the storm, but those at the Shell station on Marine Boulevard seeing more customers than usual at the pumps.
As of Tuesday afternoon, many gas stations had bumped their prices up to $2.24 a gallon, about 10 cents more than it was at most stations that morning.
The staff members at the Piggly Wiggly on Henderson Drive were preparing for an onslaught with a brand new pallet of water cases on Tuesday afternoon.
“People are buying tons of water,” said Piggly Wiggly bagger Jimmy Loreman.
Loreman said people had been stocking up on vegetables in cans, pork and beans and water most of the day.
Cornelia Walton was not one of them.
New to the Jacksonville area, Walton said she hasn’t experienced a bad hurricane before and is praying whatever comes around North Carolina is not too bad. On Tuesday she was simply buying her regular list of groceries.
“If it’s just the rain and wind, we can make it,” Walton said.
But that’s the problem right now: Matthew is still too far away to determine just how Onslow County will be impacted.
If Matthew stays on the current projected path, Onslow County will begin seeing gusty winds and rain on Friday with it really setting in Friday night, Lonka with the National Weather Service said. The storm could potentially last throughout the weekend, he said, with the biggest impact on the area Saturday.
Lonka suggested people prepare now.
“It could be a major storm in our area,” he said. “Now is a good time to make preparations for a hurricane.”