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We are still going to get quite a storm in Lee County this week, but the news this morning of Hurricane Florence’s sudden western shift is certainly welcome in this part of the state.

That just means the eye of the storm is no longer heading for the Bojangles in Tramway. It’s still going to be a bad storm, and we’re still going to get a ton of rain. This from CNN just minutes ago: Florence is forecast to crawl up to the North Carolina coast late this week and turn slowly left before landfall — a development that would still smash the Tar Heel State with life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and inundating rain while putting more of South Carolina in danger.

However, local authorities have declared a state of emergency through Sept. 30 until further notice:

In Brief

  • Florence’s projected path takes a southwestern turn. The storm will “slow to a crawl” just off the North Carolina coast late Thursday or early Friday and head south (moving at 2 to 3 mph) then heading inland on Saturday.
  • Florence was downgraded to a “dangerous Category 3” storm yesterday. It’s expected to hit the coast as a Category 3.
  • Weather Channel predicts “catastrophic flash flooding and major river flooding” in Central North Carolina.
  • Sanford Army National Guard Facility at 2214 Nash St. in Sanford declared an emergency shelter and is now open.
  • A second “pet friendly” shelter has opened at SanLee Middle School as of 7 p.m. Wednesday.
  • Central Carolina Hospital enacts emergency response plan.
  • Lee County’s new information hotline can be reached at (919) 718-4686.
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Path | Wind | Rain

The latest track from the National Hurricane Center (above) shows Lee County remains in the “cone of uncertainty,” though not nearly centered in that cone as it was even 24 hours ago.

Despite the perceived good news, other NHC maps show Lee County is still going to get a ton of wind and rain. The graphics below show our area is expected to get wind gusts up to between 60 and 80 mph, and total rainfall amounts between 6 and 15 inches.

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Not helping matters is the rainfall we’ve received the past two evenings — just enough to saturate the ground and give a head start to our creeks and rivers. People keep bringing up Hurricane Harvey when talking about the possible impact of Florence, and it was the days and days of rain from Harvey that created the chaos. Keep in mind, Houston is full of bayous and is susceptible to flooding, which played a big role in that natural disaster. We’re a little higher on the sea level map, but the flooding from this storm presents the biggest danger.


Sanford’s Emergency Shelter(s)

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety opened Sanford’s Army National Guard Facility at 2214 Nash St. as its emergency shelter in Lee County, as part of the North Carolina Coastal Region Evacuation and Shelter Plan. The shelter has been designated as the inland emergency shelter for Craven County residents that are under a mandatory evacuation order due to Hurricane Florence. The state is managing and responsible for the staffing and resources for the emergency shelter; any questions related to the CRES emergency shelter should be directed to Keith Acree, Public Information Officer for NC Emergency Management at Keith.Acree@ncdps.gov or (919) 825-2517.

(Updated 8 p.m.) The County announced a second shelter at SanLee Middle School, located at 2309 Tramway Road. This one is a pet-friendly location, with dogs, cats and birds sheltered in a nearby facility. Those requiring transportation to the shelter via COLTS through 10 a.m. Thursday can call (919) 776-7291.


Curfew in Lee County

Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter announced today that a curfew will be imposed in all parts of Lee County beginning at 9 p.m. on Thursday. The curfew will be in place until rescinded by city and county officials. According to Carter, the curfew will be enforced to “encourage citizens to be in a safe place, as opposed to being outdoors or on the roadways.”

“We are still expecting high winds and large totals of rain, which could result in trees/power lines down, as well as other dangerous conditions,” Carter said.


Other Information

  • (Added 8 p.m.) Lee County Government has established an information update line to provide recorded updates on the status of Hurricane Florence. The LCG Storm and Operations Update Line number is (919) 718-4686.
  • (Added 8 p.m.) Lee County Parks & Recreation activites and facilities are canceled until further notice. County services in the Buggy Building downtown are closed Thursday and Friday, and the Lee County Library Broadway Branch will be closed Thursday.
  • (Added 8 p.m.) Lee County Enrichment Center’s programs (meals and fitness programs) are canceled Thursday and Friday.
  • (Added 8 p.m.) COLTS will operate for dialysis only on Thursday morning until noon. The system will shut down Friday and Saturday.
  • Central Carolina Hospital announced it has initiated its severe weather plan and is proactively taking steps to prepare for the potential impact of Hurricane Florence. The hospital says it is preparing employees and providers “to ensure they are well-equipped to serve the community during this critical time of need.” Extra staff will be on hand for higher patient volumes and to support transfer of patients.
  • Click here for DOT Road Closure Information.
  • Lee County Emergency Management can be reached at (919) 775-5531 or by email at lcoes@leecountync.gov.
  • The Temple Theatre has announced the opening of its first show of the fall season, 1776, will be pushed back by a week. The planned Thursday matinee, however, is still on.
  • Hugger Mugger Brewing announced in a Facebook post that it will suspend brewing operations and make available both filtered water and space during Hurricane Florence and its aftermath. Additionally, the company, located on Wicker Street in downtown Sanford, announced that people interested in donating various supplies can do so at the beer hall before the storm hits on Thursday.
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