RALEIGH (WTVD) —
Hurricane Matthew’s forecasted track took another dramatic shift Wednesday morning, but Governor Pat McCrory and emergency officials are still making preparations for the storm’s impact.
At 11 a.m., the storm’s projected track continued to shift south and east, moving Raleigh out of the cone of uncertainty.
The hurricane is expected to brush the North Carolina coast and could still bring damaging winds by Saturday, along with coastal flooding. Evacuation orders remain in place ahead of the storm’s expected landfall.
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The latest shift in the track does put Florida more at risk.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has urged coastal residents to prepare for the possibility of a direct hit and line up three days’ worth of food, water and medicine. The Red Cross put out a call for volunteers in South Carolina. And the White House said relief supplies were being moved to emergency staging areas in the Southeast.
People raced to supermarkets, gas stations and hardware stores, buying up groceries, water, plywood, tarps, batteries and propane. Images Wednesday morning showed food and water supplies dwindling at stores in anticipation.
South Carolina’s governor has declared a state of emergency and is ordering the evacuation of coastal communities, initiating the state’s lane reversal evacuation plan. Under the plan, Interstate 26 will only go in one direction– away from the coast.
In the Tar Heel state, officials have ordered the mandatory evacuation of UNC-Wilmington and Cape Lookout National Seashore.
“We are doing everything we can to prepare for Hurricane Matthew and ensure the safety of our citizens and visitors,” McCrory said. “I urge everyone on Ocracoke Island to take these evacuation orders seriously.”
“Crews are ready to go,” said Derrick Remer, Emergency Management & Special Events Manager with the City of Raleigh. “We have our gas tanks fueled our swift water rescue teams are ready to respond.”
In Raleigh, Remer said crews are on standby ready to work through the weekend on 12-hour shifts, on the go 24 hours if needed. While the city is still watching and waiting, they’ve already started conversations with power crews and other emergency operations.
“We have a lot of conference calls with our partners at Duke Energy, North Carolina Emergency Management and Wake County,” said Remer.
“We began discussions this morning,” said Scott Hecht with the public works department in Cary.
He said all of the department is on a critical list position, on standby.
“There’s a good chance we’ll be working Saturday, into Saturday night, maybe Friday night,” said Hecht.
Specifically, they’re talking with the fire department, utilities, water treatment plants and the parks department. Crews are planning to cut away limbs that could affect power lines and cleaning out any storm drains, culverts, known to quickly clog up in storms.
City leaders are also asking people to make sure their homes are prepared, bring in anything that could blow in the wind and touch base with elderly or disabled neighbors in case they need help preparing.
Numerous area high schools have also changed their football game dates due to the storm.
On Monday, McCrory issued a state of emergency for 66 North Carolina counties – which includes the entire ABC11 viewing area – as the storm swirled closer.
The governor said officials are taking the storm very seriously and are hoping to be “over-prepared and underwhelmed by Hurricane Matthew.”
McCrory has directed the state ferry system to assist with the phased evacuation of Ocracoke Island. Hyde County issued a mandatory evacuation order for island visitors beginning Wednesday morning, to be followed by a mandatory evacuation for all residents at 5 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 6.
Watch Gov. McCrory’s full press conference
ABC11’s team of meteorologists continue to watch the storm and where its path may go.
“There certainly is the possibility of error on where and when this storm may track,” said Schwenneker. “I want to stress we are still 4 days out and we won’t have a good handle on where this storm may track until Wednesday night or Thursday.”
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Duke Energy is on alert as they track the storm’s path. They say they’re preparing for a major power outage event.
The state’s largest energy provider hasn’t had to prepare for this kind of potential storm, in some time.
“It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Category 3. That’s in the “Fran” category, if you will, so it’s a sizable storm,” Jeff Brooks, a Duke Energy spokesman, said.
The Red Cross is also urging residents in Eastern North Carolina to be prepared.
“The better prepared folks are, the safer they will be should Hurricane Matthew impact our coastline,” said Barry Porter, regional chief executive officer of the Red Cross in Eastern NC. “The Red Cross encourages residents to build a kit of necessities, ready their homes, and make a plan with their families.”
McCrory said that officials are concerned about damage on the coast and inland because the ground is already saturated and river levels are high.
Click here for tips and recommendations from the Red Cross.
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The ABC11 Weather Team will keep you updated with the latest.
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ABC11’s Angelica Alvarez contributed to this report.
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