florenceHurricane Florence is pretty much here. As of this writing (2 p.m. on Thursday), of course, we’re not seeing much in Lee County other than some cloud cover and a light breeze. But that will change quickly. If you haven’t finished your preparations, you should spend the next few hours doing so before hunkering down.

As was the case Wednesday, most models have the storm moving across South Carolina rather than the direct hit we were expecting earlier in the week. And as was the case Wednesday, we should still expect plenty of the weather that comes along with hurricane conditions — CNN reported this morning that while the storm had weakened somewhat, it had doubled in size — and also that the entire state can expect plenty of rain:

Even worse: Florence is expected to hover over the Carolinas, whipping hurricane-force winds and dumping relentless rain at least through Saturday.

By the time it leaves, it’s expected to have unloaded 10 trillion gallons of rainfall in North Carolina, weather.us meteorologist Ryan Maue said. That’s enough to fill more than 15 million Olympic-size swimming pools.

Most recent storm path, as of 2 p.m. Thursday
Rainfall predications, as of 2 p.m. Thursday
Our area has a 90-percent chance of wind speeds topping 40 mph for long periods of time.

City, County Updates

Meanwhile, the state of emergency declared Wednesday by local officials from Sanford, Lee County and Broadway remains in effect, with a curfew beginning at 9 p.m. While the curfew doesn’t apply to people coming and going from work, locals are highly encouraged to stay inside and off the roads until conditions improve.

“The City of Sanford is doing all that we can to prepare for Hurricane Florence. We need all Sanford citizens to seek safe shelter, prepare for possible extended power outages, and stay home and off the roads,” Sanford Mayor Chet Mann said in a news release. “Our first concern is our first responders. Please observe the curfew so they can do their work and not have added problems by having additional people on the road.”

Governments in Moore, Chatham, and Harnett counties have made various announcements as well.

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Other salient points from Thursday’s news release:

  • The City of Sanford will provide recorded updates specific to its delays, closures, water and sewer emergencies, and any other emergencies through the Customer Service Department at (919) 775-8215. Updates will also be available at www.sanfordnc.net.
  • Lee County Government has established an information line with recorded updates at (919) 718-4686, with updates provided daily at 9 a.m, 1 p.m., and 6 p.m. for the duration of the state of emergency.
  • The city will not charge late fees or implement water cut-offs this week or next and will assess the situation when the storm is past.
  • Trucks from Waste Industries will not run on Thursday or Friday, and residents should secure trash and recycling carts.
  • Sanford Fire Department members are on shift preparing to stay for 36 hours, and extra personnel will be on site at the Water Treatment Plant and Wastewater Treatment Plant. The Public Works Service Center will be staffed for the duration of the hurricane with a dispatcher and multiple employees on call.
  • City administrative offices located at 115 Chatham Street are now closed at least through Friday, and offices at City Hall will be closed on Friday.
  • The City has established a Zello Walkie Talkie channel (“City of Sanford NC”) for use during the aftermath of the storm.

Meanwhile, Lee County Emergency Services provided a Facebook update with shelter guidelines on Wednesday evening:

Other Information

  • Lee County Parks & Recreation activites and facilities are canceled until further notice, and theLee County Library Broadway Branch will be closed Thursday.
  • The Lee County Enrichment Center’s programs (meals and fitness programs) are canceled Thursday and Friday.
  • 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.

We will continue to provide free updates as we receive them. You can read our prior coverage here, here, and here. Now finish getting ready, get home, and stay safe.