RALEIGH – Gov. Pat McCrory has officially declared a state of emergency in all 100 counties as Hurricane Joaquin was upgraded by the National Hurricane Center as a category 4 storm. While the Hurricane Center says the storm could weaken over the next 24 hours, the biggest concern is the potential for flooding. Joaquin is expected to dump 5 to 7 inches of rain, maybe up to 10 some areas, on the state that has already absorbed more than a week of rainfall. With supersaturated ground, rivers and creeks are bound to crest their banks and trees are likely to fall.
“We are talking about the possibility of deadly flooding in most areas of our state,” said McCrory in a press conference this afternoon. “I’ve ordered all state agencies to begin preparation for the severe weather, particularly flooding, that is going to hit just about every corner of our state during the next few days.”
The National Guard, NCDOT and Highway Patrol are all preparing evacuation routes and rounding up rescue resources as the storm approaches. The storm is passing over the Bahamas and gathering steam, with northern North Carolina predicted to be one of the places it could to make landfall late in the weekend or early next week. The scope of possible landfall is wide, though, with the shore of New York or New Jersey also a possibility. The Charlotte area is already under a flash-flood advisory because of the steady rain if the last week.
“NCDOT crews are preparing for this storm and will remain on standby as we continue to monitor its track,” Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson said. “We are ready to shift resources as necessary to address any impacts, and we urge travelers throughout the state to use extreme caution and avoid driving on flooded roadways.”
McCrory advised North Carolinians to make sure their emergency kits are stocked and to visit ReadyNC.org and download the app to stay on top of information about the storm.
The governor said he is contacting federal emergency agencies and will open a central command at the State Emergency Operations Center on Friday. The Center opened in 2012 as a state-of-the-art facility in Raleigh that houses the National Guard and the N.C. Division of Emergency Management. It becomes a staging and information center in the event of emergencies, providing officials with live camera shots and real-time updates from across the state.