North Carolina’s governor declared a State of Emergency on Friday evening as Hurricane Florence continues to churn in the Atlantic Ocean.
The storm is still days from landfall but Gov. Roy Cooper declared the State of Emergency and waived transportation rules to help farmers harvest and transport their crops more quickly, according to a news release Friday night.
“While it’s still too early to know the storm’s path, we know we have to be prepared,” Cooper said in a news release. “During harvest, time is of the essence. Action today can avoid losses due to Florence.”
The National Hurricane Center’s forecast path for Florence takes the storm to the west, to the south of Bermuda by early next week.
Cooper says it’s “too early” to know where the storm will go, but he says residents should use the weekend to prepare for the possibility of a natural disaster.
Some forecast models have shown Florence slamming into land by late next week, while others indicated the storm would curve away from shore.
Cooper’s Executive Order 52 temporarily waives a cap on hours of service restrictions for trucks traveling in and through the state. The order also removes a cap on the size and weight restrictions for trucks carrying crops and livestock.
Earlier Friday, “Gov. Cooper said state emergency management officials are working with local and federal counterparts to prepare North Carolina for possible impacts from Florence,” officials said.
The National Hurricane Center said Florence’s maximum sustained winds Friday evening were estimated to be 65 mph. The storm was centered about 905 miles east-southeast of Bermuda and moving west at 8 mph.
The now-Category 3 hurricane is forecast to come ashore along the North or South Carolina coast as a Category 4 storm late Thursday into Friday.
“North Carolina is no stranger to hurricanes. We are a resilient state. Storms and heavy wind and rain can affect the entire state,” Cooper said.
The governor previously declared a state of emergency ahead of Florence to help the flow of resources.
“We have a couple of days to get ready. Use that time,” Cooper said.
A FEMA administrator is in the state ahead of Florence.
Cooper’s request for a federal disaster declaration is an effort to have more resources available across the state.
Just before Cooper made his comments, Dare County issued a mandatory evacuation order for all visitors and residents of Hatteras starting at noon Monday and the rest of Dare County at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Brunswick County issued a mandatory evacuation for residents in low-lying and flood-prone areas, or in mobile or substandard homes which takes effect 7 a.m. Tuesday.
A voluntary evacuation will be in effect for other residents.
Currituck County issued an evacuation order for all vacationers and guests in Corolla and Carova beginning Tuesday.
Hyde County officials announced Monday at noon that the county declared a state of emergency for all of Hyde County and a mandatory visitor evacuation of Ocracoke Island due to the threat of Florence.
Dare County Schools will be closed for students and staff Tuesday through the end of the week, the district announced.
Brunswick County Schools will also be closed Tuesday through the end of the week, officials said.
New Hanover County Schools have canceled classes from Sept. 11-14 due to Florence.
Duke Energy and other co-ops are monitoring the storm.
State Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said utility teams are ready to “surge in” after the storm passes.
Despite preparations by power companies, Cooper said families need to be prepared to be without power for “awhile.”
Around 6,500 North Carolina National Guard soldiers and airmen are on standby for relief operations.