Urgent storm update

Published 6:11 pm Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jim Chrisman, interim Beaufort County manager, met with the news media about 6:30 p.m. Thursday and said the following.

Chrisman said that, based on current information, Hurricane Irene is predicted to come onshore near Morehead City as a Category 3 hurricane and cross into Beaufort County as a strong Category 2 hurricane.

He defined residents covered by the mandatory evacuation order, issued by the county Thursday, as “any resident in Beaufort County who has to purchase flood insurance or any Beaufort County resident who has had water in or under their house in recent past rain events.”

He also stressed that “residents who live in areas surrounded by tall pine trees or other tall trees need to heed the warning of high sustained winds.”

In addition to the above definition of flood-prone locations, Chrisman cited the following specific examples: Belhaven, Aurora, the Voice of America Road area in Beaufort County and Minuteman Lane and 15th Street in Washington.

He also said a voluntary evacuation has been issued for other areas of Beaufort County.

Chrisman said a regional shelter has been opened by the state in Wilson County.

Beaufort County officials will release tomorrow morning plans for shelters here.

Also, the latest prediction is for storm surge on the Pamlico River to be 6 feet or more, according to Chrisman and Washington Park Mayor Tom Richter. Richter said a storm surge much higher than 6 feet would mean that most of Washington Park would be under water.

Officials also expect extreme flooding throughout most of Belhaven and Aurora.

“We need to be prepared for this thing to come directly through Beaufort County,” Chrisman said.

As of 8 p.m. Thursday, Hurricane Irene had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and was moving north-northwest at 14 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center’s website.

The hurricane center defines a Category 3 storm as one that has winds of 111-130 mph.

A Category 2 storm is defined as a system with 96-110-mph winds.