NC governor declares state of emergency ahead of ‘powerful’ Hurricane Irma: ‘Get ready’

Estimates of when tropical storm force winds from Hurricane Irma could arrive.
Estimates of when tropical storm force winds from Hurricane Irma could arrive. National Hurricane Center

As Hurricane Irma bears down on the Caribbean and Florida, the governors of the Carolinas have declared states of emergency.

Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday declared a state of emergency, which will go into effect at 8 a.m. Thursday. Cooper said the state is considering possible impacts to all 100 counties across the state.

“It is not too soon to get ready,” Cooper said. “Irma is a powerful storm.”

Powerful Category 5 Hurricane Irma already was pushing into the Caribbean and approaching Florida on Wednesday when it was joined in the Atlantic by two newly formed hurricanes – Jose and Katia. Jose formed well to the east of Irma and was not expected to pose an immediate threat to land, though it’s too early to accurately predict the storm’s path. Katia formed in the gulf, off the coast of Mexico.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster also announced a state of emergency for his state Wednesday.

North Carolina is still several days away from feeling the effects of Irma, but could begin to feel wind from the storm Sunday and could see rough surf and beach erosion as early as Thursday.

Cooper urged residents across the state to think about possible routes and destinations for evacuation if it becomes necessary. He stressed that emergency supplies such as water, non-perishable food, phones, chargers, flashlights, batteries, blankets and sleeping bags should be checked and restocked. Updated information can be found at throughout the storm.

“It’s time to get your family, your pets and your businesses ready for Irma,” the governor said.

Cooper added that many North Carolinians still lack a permanent home after being displaced by Hurricane Matthew last year, and they will need to be cared for. The state recently sent five swift-water rescue teams and two N.C. National Guard helicopter teams to assist with Hurricane Harvey in Texas, but Cooper said they will return by Wednesday night.

What is a state of emergency?

A state of emergency can be declared by the governor or by a resolution from the General Assembly.

Declaring a state of emergency provides additional powers to the governor, including the ability to:

▪ Use all available state resources to cope with the emergency, including state personnel and agencies;

▪ Use state and local law enforcement agencies and officers;

▪ Issue evacuation orders to all parts of a stricken area;

▪ Establish economic controls over resources and materials, including food and shelter;

▪ Acquire through condemnation or seizure necessary supplies and facilities;

▪ Set curfews;

▪ Restrict vehicular travel;

▪ Waive any state or municipal laws, regulations or ordinances that hinder the relief effort.