Update: Onslow County's shelters will not be opening for Hurricane Florence. Rather for those requiring transportation to evacuate, registration to travel to approved shelters inland will begin at 7 a.m. Wednesday at the Jacksonville Commons Middle School and Dixon Middle School, Cotton said. None of the shelters in Onslow County will be available during the storm.
For full coverage of Hurricane Florence, click here
Onslow County will continue evaluating its shelters as part of its preparations for Hurricane Florence.
At a special meeting held for the Onslow County Board of Commissioners Monday, County Manager David Cotton confirmed the following shelters being open for the public beginning at 2 p.m. Wednesday:
Dixon Middle School, 118 Ridge Field Ave. in Sneads Ferry
Jacksonville Commons Middle School, 315 Commons Drive South in Jacksonville
Richlands High School, 8100 Richlands Highway
Swansboro High School, 161 Queens Creek Road in Swansboro.
"Shelters across the county are currently being re-examined to determine what levels of wind they can withstand," according to Cornelius Jordan, county spokesperson.
The county is also looking into opening additional shelters as well.
“Those are the shelters we normally use,” Jordan said of the four confirmed at Monday's meeting. “But with this storm being so massive and so life threatening (the county is) looking at other buildings.”
Some of the structures being provided as shelters were not build to withstand the wind speed predicted with Hurricane Florence, Onslow County Manager David Cotton said during the commissioner's meeting. Due to this, the shelter locations could be changed.
"I can't, in good conscious, recommend that we send our neighbors and friends and the community at large to a shelter that may not be able to sustain a hit from a storm that is in excess to what it was built to (withstand)," Cotton said.
Jordan said though the county will not have a mandatory evacuation they are encouraging people to leave prior to Florence's arrival.
“We’re highly recommending right now at this moment that people leave the area,” Jordan said. “Do not rely on the shelters.”
An emergency alert on the county website recommended coming up with two options: one for sheltering and one for evacuation. The county recommends choosing multiple cities and multiple hotels within each city to go to.
Jacksonville Commons Middle School will serve as a designated pet friendly shelter, Cotton said. Owners will not be able to drop off pets and leave, however, and must remain with pets at the shelter. The commons will also give shelter to those with special needs through the storm, Cotton added.
“If people evacuate, their pets need to evacuate also,” Charlotte Rodriguez, American Red Cross representative, said.
For those planning on leaving their homes, the Red Cross recommends taking along supplies.
“What we’re telling people of course is to be prepared,” Rodriguez said. “They need to have what we call a ‘go bag.’”
Evacuees, according to Rodriguez, should pack a gallon of water per person per day, medications they regularly take, a first-aid kit, battery-operated flashlights with extra batteries, cash (because if power is down credit cards won’t work), copies of a deed or lease agreement and identification.
“Plan ahead of time and take your documentation,” Rodriguez said.
Reporter Maxim Tamarov can be reached at 910-219-8439 or firstname.lastname@example.org