With Hurricane Irma settings its sights on the United States, preparations are underway in the Carolinas.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As Hurricane Irma continues on its track toward the United States as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, both Carolinas are under a state of emergency to prepare.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that a state of emergency would go into effect at 8 a.m. Thursday. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency for the Palmetto State Wednesday.
In a press conference Friday night, Governor McMaster ordered the mandatory evacuation of barrier islands in three counties in preparation for Irma. Colleton County, Beaufort County, and Jasper County's barrier islands are to be evacuated effective 10 a.m. ahead of the storm. McMaster also warned of a possible storm surge on the Carolina coast of 4-8 feet.
On Saturday morning, Governor Cooper provided an update on North Carolina's Hurricane Irma preparedness.
Cooper urged residents to prepare for the storm, and addressed the spike in travelers passing through the Tarheel state as evacuees head North of Irma's path. All road work projects have been suspended to aid traffic.
The National Guard will be stationed in Greensboro, Asheville and Charlotte to help with storm response. Emergency response staff will be shifting from eastern to western areas of the state to account for the west moving storm.
The Governor also urged residents to be vigilant of scams related to storm relief. The Department of Public Safety has a website that can be used to stay up to date on the latest storm preparedness information.
In a press briefing on Saturday, Gov. McMaster gave an update on emergency response in South Carolina. The state will still be impacted by the west moving storm. The American Red Cross has opened shelters to accommodate evacuees in impacted areas. Reports of price gouging can be reported to the SC Attorney General.
The latest on Hurricane Irma's path has pushed the Carolinas to start preparing by declaring states of emergencies and panicking people to stock up on water and supplies.
Grocery Stores respond to Irma preparations
People are stocking up on bread and water, but will local grocery stores stay open when Irma hits?
"We will share information about store closings or abbreviated hours on our website, www.harristeeter.com. There is not one but rather a variety of factors which could lead to the decision to close a store or abbreviate hours. A few of these factors are: unsafe conditions for our valued associates or shoppers; power outage; flood; inaccessibility due to road closures, etc. Plans are in place to re-open as safely and quickly as possible any stores which may be required to close or abbreviate hours of operation."
"At this time our Charlotte area stores are operating under normal business hours. It’s still a bit too soon to determine future closures, however, we will continue to monitor the storm and advisories. The safety of our customers and associates is our main priority. Customers can stay updated on the status of our stores at publix.com/status."
“We are tracking this storm in real time and staying closely connected with our store management teams, reminding our associates of emergency procedures and what to do before, during and after the storm. We will remain open for our customers as long as safe conditions prevail. If a mandatory evacuation is ordered, we will close our facilities with enough time for our associates to secure shelter for themselves and their families.”
Irma scare pushes Carolinians into supply frenzy
In the aftermath of Harvey, Carolinians are getting prepared for the storm
As Irma looks to impact the East Coast early next week, people in the Carolinas are making sure they are prepared, even to the point of clearing grocery store shelves.
Carolinians flooded into grocery stores Wednesday as Hurricane Irma barrels closer to the coast.
“We have some regular groceries but we also got a lot of things preparing for the hurricane,” said Shelley Therman, as she and her husband Derrick loaded supplies into their SUV.
“Making sure we have plenty of batteries and the bottled water and things like that,” Keith said.
North and South Carolina have both declared states of emergency ahead of the storm.
“Now is the time for people to get prepared,” warned Governor Roy Cooper at a news conference Wednesday evening.
Residents are heeding that warning.
At the same time, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein issued a stern warning on price gouging.
Three hundred and fifty complaints have been reported at gas stations across the state, 38 of those in Mecklenburg County.
If you want to report an incident of price gouging call 877-5-NOSCAM or visit NCDOJ.gov.
“We will pursue these complaints and make sure that any price increase happening at these gas stations is being done because of increase of cost to them and not because of greed and trying to exploit a tough situation,” said Stein.
With thousands evacuating Florida, many are now traveling north.
South Carolina says it is prepping road crews and making plans to keep drivers up to speed on conditions online and through the SCDOT call center.
As people continue to prepare for Hurricane Irma, Duke Energy is assembling thousands of line technicians to prepare for massive power outages.
Duke Energy preparing for power outages
Local tree crews and energy companies are working together to prepare the city for winds that could knock out power to thousands.
"We have a team of meteorologists who are monitoring weather conditions 24-7," said Meghan Miles of Duke Energy.
"Right now we are checking supplies, making sure equipment is ready and we have all the materials we need when repairs need to be made," said Miles.
While Duke takes a patient approach, local tree services are booked for weeks.
"We're backed out with regular work," said Cormac Nagan, an arborist with Heartwood Tree Service. "But if storms come through and there's emergency whether there's structure or people in danger, those go to the top of the list."
At least 12 dead after Irma slams the Caribbean
Authorities are struggling to get aid to small islands devastated by the storm’s record 185 mph winds.
Irma's track continues to shift, putting the Carolinas at a greater risk of being impacted by the storm.
As of the 2 p.m. Thursday advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Irma's maximum sustained winds were at 175 mph. The storm is continuing to move west-northwest at 16 mph and is approaching the Dominican Republic.
Irma left a trail of destruction across the Caribbean as it roared past Puerto Rico toward the Dominican Republic Thursday. According to USA TODAY, at least 10 people have died and authorities are struggling to get aid to several small Caribbean islands devastated by the storm's powerful winds. Barbuda's prime minister said the island was "barely habitable" after the storm.
The First Warn Storm Team warns not to let your guard down as Irma's path shifts west. "This is not going to miss us," said Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich. "It's just that the threats are going down. I think a lot of folks are 'oh, it's shifting west. All clear. Let's go back to normal.' Not so much. We're still going to get 30-40 mph winds and we're likely going to see 2-4 inches of rain. That's enough to bring down trees."
How to prepare a hurricane supply kit
With the loss of electricity possible for several days, there are a number of items you’ll want to have handy in an easily accessible place.
Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich says it’s important to remain weather aware stay prepared, even several days before the storm is expected to reach the area.
Here is a checklist of recommended items:
- Cash (ATMs may not work)
- Car charger for cell phones and other devices
- Drinking water (recommended 1 gallon per person per day, minimum three days)
- Prescription medication (Two-week supply)
- Batteries: Extra batteries for all of your devices
- Battery-operated weather radio/clock
- Food: Lay in a three-day supply of canned goods and items that don't require refrigeration. Secure a hand-operated can opener, as well as any necessary pet food.
- Additional items: First aid kit, flashlights, helmets, and blankets. Also, store any essential documents in a watertight container.
Depending on how far away the storm is, Panovich said it's good to have what he calls the "Ready, Set, Go" method of preparation.
HOW TO REPORT AN OUTAGE
To report a power outage to Duke Energy, you can call 1-800-769-3766. You can also report outages online by clicking here.
If you see a fallen power line or a safety hazard, call Duke Energy officials at 1-800-769-3766. To check the status of current power outages, click here.
How to keep your home, pets & family safe for Hurricane Irma
Officials are urging everyone to take preventative actions when it comes to being safe
Experts and city authorities are letting people know what they can do to prepare for Irma so their families and belongings will be safe during the storm.
I. YOUR HOME
Downed trees are likely going to be a big issue for the Carolinas.
“It’s going to be chaos,” said Tim Young, who owns Tim Young tree service in Charlotte.
“These winds will snap pine trees like graham crackers. They will impale a house with a viciousness. They can kill you in a high wind.”
Unfortunately, Young says most, if not all, tree companies are booked solid.
“It's too late now,” he said. “The best thing you can do is get your cars from out from under the trees. If you have a two-story house, sleep on the bottom floor.”
II. YOUR PETS
CMPD animal care and control offered the following tips regarding your pets:
- Call your veterinarian and have them email a copy of your pet’s most up-to-date records. Include the pet’s rabies certificate. Print these out and store in a Ziploc gallon size bag in your emergency kit for your pet.
- Take a pet selfie! Take a photo of you and your pet with your smart phone so you have a recent photo of you with your pet. This proves ownership. Take additional photos of your pet: Close up of face, body shot. This helps with identification if you were to be separated from your pet.
- Update your microchip! Make sure your pet’s microchip registration is up to date with your most recent address and phone number.
- If your pet is not microchipped, AC&C is holding a clinic this Saturday, Sept 9 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the AC&C shelter at 8315 Byrum Drive in Charlotte. Mecklenburg County residents can: get a free rabies vaccine, get a free collar ID tag, get a $10 microchip.
- Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with an ID tag that is up to date with your most recent address and phone number.
- If your pet is on special medication, check your supply and make sure you have at least 2 weeks’ worth to pack in your emergency to go kit for your pet.
- If you don’t have an emergency kit for your pet, start working on one now.
- Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date.
- The Lucky Dog Bark & Brew Charlotte is also reserving 30 kennels for evacuees at discounted rates. Call 704.333.4114 for Charlotte or 704.896.5550 for Lake Norman.
III. YOUR CHILDREN
School districts in our area -- including CMS, Rock Hill, Clover, York, Fort Mill, Lancaster and Union County schools -- all say it’s too early to tell if schools will be canceled.
“We do precautionary drills beforehand so children know what to do, in this case, for weather related incidents,” a CMS spokesperson said. “We have people here monitoring the weather and they will make decisions based on the forecast as it comes up.”
All school districts encourage parents to update their contact information with their child’s school so they can be easily contacted in case of an emergency or cancellation.
“We wouldn’t advise parents to keep their children home unless there was an announcement made,” CMS leaders told NBC Charlotte. “The superintendent would make that call. Parents need to know that they should make sure their contact information with the school is updated so the school has the correct number. Updates are pushed through the school.”