Emergency Services issues voluntary evacuation for entire county

Published 10:47 pm Monday, September 10, 2018

Beaufort County Emergency Services has issued a voluntary evacuation for the entirety of Beaufort County on Monday. The office is asking everyone who can leave the county ahead of Hurricane Florence’s arrival to do so.

“We have been advised by the National Weather Service that regardless of where Hurricane Florence makes landfall, Beaufort County will likely experience category 4 storm conditions. In light of this, we are issuing a voluntary county-wide evacuation,” said Carnie Hedgepeth, director of Emergency Services, at a Monday press conference. “Weather conditions are expected to remain calm through the day on Wednesday and steadily worsen through Wednesday night into Thursday. We are urging all occupants of Beaufort County to evacuate out of the county, and out of the path of the storm by sunset Wednesday evening.”

Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall near Wilmington on Thursday evening. A possible storm surge of 7 to 9 feet above normal has been predicted for local waterways, and the storm, depending on its exact path, could dump up to 15-20 inches of rain in the area.

Hedgepeth, along with County Manager Brian Alligood, Beaufort County Board of Commissioners Chairman Frankie Waters, Beaufort County Sheriff Ernie Coleman and Chief Deputy Charlie Rose, held the press conference to ensure the public is prepared for the potential impacts of Florence.

“Right now we have some time before we know when the storm will impact us, and it’s important to take advantage of that time,” Hedgepeth said.

Coleman said his office is preparing for the storm: e-911 call center staff will be put up in local hotels to ensure continued service; sheriff’s office 4×4 vehicles and deputies will be stationed across the county’s more rural areas to increase accessibility to law enforcement and Wednesday, inmates at the Beaufort County Detention Center, located in the basement of the courthouse, will be transported to facilities in Bertie and Nash counties and Raleigh Central Prison. Coleman encouraged people to only use 911 during the storm if they were in immediate danger.

“If you have to dial 911, please make it an emergency,” Coleman said.

Alligood said the county is doing its own prep, including post-storm water supplies.

“(Public Works is) filling tanks and checking generators, doing all those normal things to make sure we have as much water in the air as possible,” Alligood said, explaining that the purpose is two-fold: a greater the post-hurricane supply and  heavier towers are less likely to be destroyed by hurricane-force winds.

“Beyond the impacts of the storm, I think our greatest concern is complacency; people not heeding the warning,” Alligood said.

He stressed that if people choose not to evacuate, they will be on their own in the heart of the storm.

“There will be a point in time, where our folks will not be able to respond,” Alligood said.

Beaufort County Commissioners will announce a state of emergency for Beaufort County at tonight’s regular meeting of the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.