Updated 9:26 p.m.
Emergency operations on Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River have established Tropical Cyclone Condition III, or TCC III.
This designation is in preparation for potential impacts from Hurricane Florence, according to a base release late Monday.
“TCC III is established when a destructive weather system with sustained winds of 50 knots (58 mph) or greater is forecast to affect the area within 48 hours,” according to the release.
While Florence runs her course along the coast, emergency operations centers will prepare for potential impacts. The release states the bases have already pre-staged equipment, personnel, and supplies to assist throughout the storm and essential personnel have been recalled and are prepping shelters and manning operations centers.
The primary shelters, which have not yet been opened, are:Wallace Creek Fitness Center, Bldg. WC-100 (Max. Capacity: 620) Tarawa Terrace II Elementary School, Bldg. TT-84 (Max. Capacity: 400) MCAS New River Gym, Bldg. AS-4000 (Max. Capacity: 125) MCAS New River Fitness Center, Bldg. AS-4400 (Max. Capacity: 200)
The release asks base residents to watch the base social media pages for information on when the shelters will be open. These shelters have generators for lighting but not necessarily for air conditioning.
“You will be with total strangers in close quarters under less than ideal conditions,” according to the release, which also stated that at the shelters supervision of children is required, no doctors will be on hand other than corpsman for minor issues, and the Camp Lejeune shelters will not provide food for the first 72 hours while the MCAS New River shelters will offer food for purchase.
Those planning to take advantage of the shelters are asked to bring with them:Nonperishable food and water for each family member to last three days Medications Diapers/pullups/formula/baby treats A special item that will help a child through a trying time Pillow/blanket/sleeping bag if you like Games/books/magazines Flashlight/small portable radio/extra batteries Toiletries/change of clothes
The shelters are available for service animals only – no pets, according to the release.
Expectant mothers who are at minimum 37 weeks pregnant or classified as very high-risk may use Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune as a storm shelter, according to the release. This option would be available beginning Wednesday.
Questions and concerns can be directed to:
Nat. Fahy, director of Communication Strategy & Operations: 910-451-7413 or 910-526-2303 or firstname.lastname@example.org
MCIEAST-MCB Camp Lejeune & MCAS New River Communication Strategy & Operations: 910-451-5655 ext. 1 or email@example.com
Updated at 8:49 p.m.
Holly Ridge has declared a state of emergency.
Town officials are encouraging residents to make preparations ahead of the tropical force winds expected as early as Wednesday.
"If you decide to stay and later change your mind, conditions may not allow for your exit. Roads may become flooded and travel could become hazardous. If you do decide to leave, county officials recommend locating west of Greensboro," the town's press release reads.
Updated 6:52 p.m.
Emerald Isle Mayor Eddie Barber declared a State of Emergency in Emerald Isle, effective at 2 p.m. Monday, as well as a mandatory evacuation for the town beginning at noon on Tuesday.
All are advised to evacuation Emerald Isle no later than 8 p.m. Wednesday, according to a press release from the town.
"If Hurricane Florence follows the current forecast track and intensity, the impacts are projected to be worse than anything Emerald Isle has experienced in at least the last 20 years, if not longer. The Town urges all of our residents, property owners, and visitors to take Florence extremely seriously and plan accordingly," according to the release.
The Emerald Isle Bridge is scheduled to close at 7 a.m. Thursday and a curfew will be in effect starting 7 a.m. Thursday, during which time no one will be allowed to enter the town until further notice.
"The curfew will remain in effect for the duration of Hurricane Florence," according to the release. "During the curfew, it is illegal for anyone to leave their own property and travel anywhere within Emerald Isle."
Following the storm officials will evaluate the town, but warned the bridge will likely be closed for several days, if not longer.
Updated 5:30 p.m.
Onslow County declared a State of Emergency at a special meeting Monday.
Following a proclamation pertaining to the State of Emergency, the Onslow County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the declaration, which became effective immediately.
The board also confirmed four shelters will be open beginning at 2 p.m. Wednesday: Jacksonville Commons Middle School, which allows pets and those with special needs, as well as the new Dixon Middle School and Swansboro and Richlands high schools.
Updated 5:00 p.m.
Surf City is joining some nearby towns with an evacuation.
Mayor Doug Medlin emailed out the announcement for an immediate voluntary evacuation of the town.
"Residents are encouraged but not required to leave at this time," Medlin wrote.
Medlin noted that anyone needing a hurricane key card would need to pick one up prior to noon Tuesday, after which Surf City Town Hall will be closed. The Surf City Community Center will be closed Tuesday, with all programs canceled until further notice and all public meetings have been canceled for this week.
Florence's Category 4 status means the storm will have sustained winds of 130 to 166 mph, according to John Elardo, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
“There might be some fluctuations in intensity, but it’s supposed to remain a very dangerous hurricane all the way through landfall,” Elardo said. “We have to really take this one seriously.”
The storm will likely cause damaging storm surges along the coast and has potential to form tornadoes, according to Elardo. The fact that it might slow down as it hits the land means there is a chance for severe flooding. Elardo predicted a widespread amount of rain to be 10 inches with locally higher amounts.
“I don’t think we should be focusing on the category,” Elardo said. “The fact remains that it’s a dangerous major hurricane.”
Updated at 3:28 p.m.
Because of the approaching storm and the planned start of the evacuation of Carteret County tomorrow, Carteret County Public Schools will be closed Tuesday through Friday.
Emergency Management Officials have not announced information on shelters at this point.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 11, will be an optional workday for all school system employees.
Updated at 3:01 p.m.
The City of Jacksonville has declared a State of Emergency.
"The City is taking Hurricane Florence seriously, noting the significant chance of heavy rain and wind, and potential storm surge no matter where the eye of the storm passes," reads the press release.
To help prepare, the city's Sanitation Division will pick up Thursday and Friday routes on Wednesday. Wednesday is the normal yard waste pick up day but Jacksonville residents are asked to not put out yard waste this week.
Residents are also asked to put the roll out trash containers inside or to secure them to something solid.
"If they cannot be secured or put away, residents are asked to fill them with water to weigh them down," the release reads.
The city is not issuing an evacuation but officials are saying that those who elect to leave should prepare to be away for an extended period of time.
"The roads may be blocked outside of this area, and should the City be heavily damaged, services could be out from utilities and businesses for some time," the release reads.
The Public Safety Department and the Jacksonville-Onslow Chamber of Commerce are issuing Re-entry Passes for City business owners and operators at the front desk of the Center for Public Safety. These passes are only to be used if the City police are required to close an area because of massive devastation or severe problems. The passes will allow easy identification of persons who have legitimate business in the area.
The Chamber will issue re-entry passes for their members who have legitimate interests in the City. The action to issue re-entry passes is necessary to ensure that only authorized people are on the premises to ensure the safety of the public and the businesses. These passes are not for residential re-entry, should that be necessary.
Updated at 2:47 p.m.
Onslow County Schools will be closed Tuesday through Friday for students. There is an optional half day for staff on Tuesday.
UPDATED 12:41 P.M.
Florence has turned into a Category 4 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center announced midday Monday.
Governor Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency in North Carolina to limit traffic and lay groundwork for emergency recovery.
“We still have a couple of days to get ready so let’s use that time,” the governor said in a briefing Monday morning. “Our best defense is good preparation.”
According to the governor’s office's Twitter account, Cooper has asked the President for a disaster declaration.
North Topsail Beach issued a mandatory evacuation, but there have been no such announcements from Jacksonville.
“No decisions have been made about evacuation orders with the city,” Assistant City Manager Glenn Hargett said about Jacksonville. The city would issue evacuation orders, he said, “if you had a pretty high idea that the storm would be so devastating that no structures would survive or the flooding that would come afterwards would be devastating.”
According to Hargett, the city is gathering additional information before a decision is made in terms of evacuation. Hargett said to expect an announcement around 4 p.m. on Tuesday about the city work schedule.
“There might not be a regular opening on Thursday or Friday,” he said.
Changes regarding the waste collection schedule have been made for the week, according to Hargett, to limit the damage from debris when the storm hits. Thursday and Friday garbage routes will be picked up on Wednesday. There will be no yard waste collection this week.
“For people that already put out their yard waste, we’re going to try to pick it up,” Hargett said. “But we don’t know if we can get it all.”
Hargett encouraged residents to bring trash and recycling containers indoors or secure them outdoors by filling them with water. Large bulky items, he said, should also not be left outside for collection.
According to Hargett, the change of combining Thursday and Friday routes into one will require cooperation from residents.
“That’s pretty much an all hands on deck activity,” Hargett said. “It’s a matter of capacity of what we can get done.”
While Emerald Isle Town Manager Frank Rush said the town has not issued an evacuation warning yet, residents are encouraged to keep their re-entry permits on the dashboard of their cars if one is issued.
Those who do not have a re-entry permit are encouraged to obtain one sooner rather than later, according to the Emerald Isle town website. The cost for a replacement hurricane re-entry permit to Emerald Isle is $25.
North Topsail Beach announced that, due to a mandatory evacuation beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday, re-entry passes may not be available past noon on Tuesday.
In order to focus resources on storm preparedness, the Town of Swansboro announced their Tuesday night 9/11 ceremony and regular meeting have been cancelled.
UPDATED 11:50 A.M.
The town of North Topsail Beach announced mandatory evacuations Monday morning.
The announcement was made by press release at 11:45 a.m. Monday. NTB Mayor Dan Tuman declared the state of emergency “based on current weather outlooks and advice of town staff.”
Officials encouraged residents to make preparations as soon as possible since tropical-storm-force winds are expected in the area as early as Wednesday, according to the release.
The town will begin mandatory evacuation procedures Tuesday at 8 a.m.
The release also notes that re-entry passes may not be available at town hall past noon on Tuesday.
“On behalf of the elected officials, we ask that you heed the warnings of emergency and weather services,” the town wrote in the release. “Please, take care of your property by securing any items that could become dangerous projectiles. If you plan to stay, please note that emergency services will likely not be available to assist you. Roads could be washed out. It will become unsafe to cross the bridges off the island. Plan accordingly. If you decide to stay and later change your mind, conditions may not allow for your exit.”
As forecasters closely monitor the exact track of Hurricane Florence, there is growing certainty that Eastern North Carolina will see significant impacts from the storm.
Monday morning Meteorologist Morgan Simms, with the National Weather Service (NWS) forecast office in Newport, said Florence was a Category 2 with sustained 105 mph winds and is expected to continue to intensify over 24 hours into a possible Category 4 hurricane.
The current track has the storm making landfall along the Carolinas sometime Thursday night as a major hurricane.
Where the center of the storm is located, the intensity and size of the wind field are all factors in what impacts an area will see, but Eastern North Carolina residents should be prepared for a major storm event.
“There is still some uncertainty about the exact location (of landfall) . . . but the confidence is still increasing that Eastern North Carolina will see some pretty significant impacts,” Simms said.
According to the 6 a.m. NWS briefing there is an “increasing risk of life threatening impacts, including storm surge and inland flooding.”
The area could start seeing tropical force winds by early Thursday and Hurricane Florence is expected to bring widespread, prolonged rainfall. The current forecast shows it will slow down shortly after landfall and there won’t be much to steer the storm after it moves inland. It could hang over the area with a prolonged rain.
The early rainfall forecast shows 7-to-10 inches overall, and 10-to-15 inches around the Onslow County area.
There is still time to make preparations for the storm, but Simms said to do so now if you haven’t already.
“There is still time to prepare but the window to do so is starting to close,” he said.
Carteret County issued a state of emergency effective 6 p.m. Sunday and Onslow County Board of Commissioners have scheduled a meeting for 5 p.m. to consider a declaration of a state of emergency.
Reporter Jannette Pippin can be reached at 910-382-2557 or Jannette.Pippin@JDNews.com.