RALEIGH, N.C. — Evacuation orders for areas along the North Carolina coast have increased, with powerful Hurricane Dorian expected to brush the state later this week, but state officials said they didn't expect the torrential flooding experienced during Florence last year.
Gov. Roy Cooper said he activated 300 members of the National Guard to help with preparations and storm response. He declared a state of emergency Saturday for the entire state.
But the storm is predicted to pick up speed as it turns north toward the state on Tuesday, Cooper said. That makes it less likely Dorian would dump vast amounts of rain as happened last year during Florence, State Emergency Management Meteorologist Katie Webster said.
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"This is a fairly fast-moving storm and after talking with the (National) Hurricane Center we have good confidence that that storm will be moving quickly as it crosses our coast," she said. "I think at this point we are not anticipating the large amounts of rain that we saw in Hurricane Florence."
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Dorian could drop 5 to 10 inches of rain on North Carolina, with points along the coast getting a foot or more, Webster said. That's about half the maximum rainfall totals during Florence last September. Florence was blamed for 45 storm-related deaths in North Carolina and the National Hurricane Center lists it as causing $22 billion in damage.
In the region of the state closest to the storm steaming up from the southeast, closings and evacuations were already being announced Sunday.
Brunswick County schools announced they would close around noon Tuesday so families could prepare for the severe weather. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington canceled classes for this week and told students to evacuate by Tuesday evening.
The National Park Service closed visitor centers and museums at the southern end of the Outer Banks on Monday, while Cape Lookout National Seashore and visitor services on Ocracoke Island, an isolated barrier island, will close Tuesday.
The owners of North Carolina's largest motor-racing track made part of its grounds near Charlotte available for hurricane evacuees. The Charlotte Motor Speedway said Monday a campground and related bathhouse are open at no cost for people looking for inland destinations away from the expected coastal impact zone.
Atlanta Motor Speedway announced Thursday it was opening its camping facilities to evacuees.
Fortunately, it seems the Charlotte region won't see any serious impact from Hurricane Dorian, but those who live in the Queen City are preparing to help anyone in the storm's path.
Like everyone else, the American Red Cross is watching Dorian closely to see where help is most needed.
They're just waiting on a phone call to tell volunteers to hit the road.
The Charlotte Metro chapter of the Red Cross packed up their emergency response vehicle on Labor Day, packed with food, water and supplies.
They have six other trailers full of supplies for shelters to head out in a moments' notice.
The organization already deployed 10 volunteers to Florida last week, and they're planning to send more to eastern parts of North Carolina later this week.
Steve Nasson with the Red Cross told Channel 9 they opened five shelters last year because of Hurricane Florence.
"We're anticipating a similar request here and those would be for evacuees from the coast -- people that need assistance," Nasson said.
>> Channel 9 has several crews heading to the coast ahead of Dorian's arrival. Stay with WSOC and check back with wsoctv.com for continuing coverage.
Volunteers with Boone-based Samaritan's Purse are heading to the Bahamas as soon as they can, but all the airports are underwater, making it difficult to get there.
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is also preparing to help. And 36 members of the Charlotte Fire Department Urban Search and Rescue team will leave Tuesday for Kinston, North Carolina.
© 2020 Associated Press