Cities across Virginia, North Carolina prepare for Hurricane Florence
Author: Staff
Published: 6:01 PM EDT September 12, 2018
Updated: 1:08 AM EDT September 14, 2018
LOCAL 11 Articles

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Hurricane Florence is a potentially catastrophic storm in the Atlantic Ocean headed toward the East Coast.

The National Hurricane Center's projected track had Florence hovering off the southern North Carolina coast starting Thursday night before finally blowing ashore. Governor Ralph Northam issued a state of emergency and a mandatory evacuation of residents in Zone A on Monday. The evacuation order affects roughly 245,000 people.

PHOTOS: Hurricane Florence approaches the Outer Banks and Hampton Roads

A state of emergency and mandatory evacuations have also been ordered for several counties in North Carolina's Outer Banks, ahead of the major Hurricane Florence.

RELATED: Shelters available during Hurricane Florence in Virginia, North Carolina

RELATED: Local parking garages open ahead of Hurricane Florence

At the White House, President Donald Trump urged people to "get out of its way."

"Don't play games with it. It's a big one," he said.

Cities across Hampton Roads and in North Carolina are preparing for the storm. Here are the updates and plans for each city.

EXPLORE

Cities across Virginia, North Carolina prepare for Hurricane Florence

LOCAL
Chapter 1

CHESAPEAKE

In Chesapeake, the sun might be shining Wednesday, but on the ground, the situation is anything but clear.

Chesapeake's Mayor West released the following message on Wednesday:

The approach of Hurricane Florence poses threats to Chesapeake and Hampton Roads that have only ever been seen in simulations and exercises, but the challenges that I am confident our City and its people are prepared to meet. While we are hopeful that recent changes in the storm’s track may lessen its impacts locally, I urge every resident not to let their guard down. Just as the storm has turned south, it could just as quickly turn back north again.

City staff, at all levels, have been preparing for days, and residents need to do the same. The Mayor asked residents to continue to gather supplies; check on and help your neighbors, particularly the elderly; and take whatever steps are necessary to potentially be without power for several days.

RELATED: Chesapeake mobile home residents responding to evacuation orders from city

The city will have three shelters available to residents, one general, one medical, and a pets facility. Click here to learn more about the locations and details.

There will be NO trash or recycling collections in Chesapeake on Thursday or Friday. Regular collection will resume Monday, if conditions permit.

Tolls on the Chesapeake Expressway (Route 168) in both directions have been suspended to allow motorists an easy way to evacuate.

Chapter 2

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C.

Mayor Bettie J. Parker has declared a State of Emergency for the City of Elizabeth City on Tuesday.

If anyone wished to fill sandbags for their personal use, the city has sand available at its public works facility at 410 Pritchard Street.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued a mandatory state evacuation for the barrier islands of North Carolina.

"Even if you've ridden out storms, don't ride this one out. Don't bet your life riding out a monster," Cooper said in a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Chapter 3

GLOUCESTER COUNTY

Gloucester County officials are monitoring Hurricane Florence and its potential effect on the community, assessing and preparing for the storm’s impacts, anticipated to include heavy rainfall, high winds, as well as coastal, tidal and inland flooding.

Tidal flooding is expected to be moderate to major with estimates around 6 feet above mean low water during the high tide cycles.

The state’s mandatory evacuation order for Zone A continues for residents in the lowest-lying and most flood-prone areas.

Public shelters will be opened in Gloucester, but officials believe the shelters will be very crowded. If there are other safe alternatives to using public shelters, it is encouraged to go there. The public shelters will be located at Peasley Middle School located at the corner of Route 606 (Ark Road) and Route 614 (Hickory Fork Road) in Sassafras. The shelter will open Thursday at 9 a.m.

Additionally, State-supported shelters are available at William and Mary College in Williamsburg and at Christopher Newport University in Newport News.

Official county announcements will be posted on the county’s website.

Chapter 4

HAMPTON

Tropical storm force winds could hit Hampton by Thursday evening with sustained winds of 25-30 mph, and gusts of 45-50 mph are predicted by Friday.

Due to the recent rains, the ground is already very saturated. Hampton officials warn that winds may knock down trees, blocking roads and taking out power lines. Residents should be prepared to be without power for a period of time.

Hampton has opened a storm shelter at Phenix School, 1061 Big Bethel Road, for the general population, as well as those with medical needs. Residents with pets can go to a second shelter at Bethel High School, 1067 Big Bethel Road, which has room for 150 animals, depending upon their size.

Solid waste collection in Hampton has been suspended for Thursday and Friday. It is hazardous for crews to attempt to collect trash in high winds, and the trash can blow out of control during collection. Residents should not take their containers or bulk trash to the curb, where high winds would likely cause them to blow over. Any trash containers left at the curb should be removed.

Chapter 5

JAMES CITY COUNTY

Due to changes in Hurricane Florence’s track, James City County has chosen to continue normal operating hours for all government offices, parks, libraries, and recreation centers, but the Chickahominy Riverfront Park Fishing pier will remain closed until further notice.

Jolly Pond Road closed to traffic on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 5 p.m. for the safety of the public.

Electric service along the bulkhead and shoreline at James City County Marina has been disconnected and will remain off until Monday, Sept. 17 due to the extreme high tides that are anticipated this weekend,

On Thursday, Sept. 13 and Friday, Sept. 14 the Emergency Operations Center will be partially activated to continue monitoring the conditions of the storm.

Residents are still encouraged to check local media and weather reports throughout the weekend to stay updated on the hurricane’s status.

The Jamestown-Scotland Ferry plans to reduce service, running only the Pocahontas, beginning at 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Complete suspension of ferry service is POSSIBLE during high tides 3-6 p.m. Fri / 4-5 a.m. & 4-6 p.m. Sat (estimated times)

Chapter 6

NEWPORT NEWS

Hundreds of people lined up and loaded sandbags in their car in Newport News Wednesday.

Newport News resident Diane Lyter loaded 30 sandbags in her SUV. She waited in line for more than three hours.

“It's better to be safe than sorry,” Lyter said.

Public Works Crews handed out 2,840 sandbags Wednesday. Lines started forming around 7:45 a.m. At one-point traffic backed up on Oyster Point Road. Public works and police eventually directed people to come in from Jefferson Avenue.

Public Works cut off the line just before 1:30 p.m. A tweet from the City of Newport News said it was because of the overwhelming response and long wait times.

The tweeted also read, “We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your understanding.”

Newport News opened shelters for residents who have no alternative.

  • Menchville High School – 275 Menchville Road – Medically Dependent and General Population
  • Warwick High School – 51 Copeland Lane – General Population and Residents with Pets – Owners must remain at the shelter with their pets (no drop-offs). Animals must be in cages. Owners will be required to care for their pets while staying at the shelter and provide all food, water, and medicines.
Chapter 7

NORFOLK

Norfolk Mayor Kenneth C. Alexander has declared a local state of emergency on Tuesday.

The declaration allows the City to ask for state and federal resources and seek state and federal reimbursement if the cost of the storm reaches a certain threshold.

City crews have been preparing for the storm, and have been cleaning storm drains and ditches to ease potential flooding. Extra crews are even on standby throughout the weekend to respond to downed trees due to the wind and saturated ground.

The city asks residents to ensure curbs, gutters, and ditches on your property and on your street are clear of debris. They also are asking residents to check on their neighbors.

Any loose items in residents' yards and on the street should be tied down or brought inside to prevent damage during the storm.

All City facilities and Courts will close at 5 p.m. Tuesday to prepare for the impact of Hurricane Florence.

Hampton Roads Transit will be providing free bus service to Norfolk residents beginning Wednesday, September 12, 2018.

The City will open shelters for those residents who need a safe place to ride out the storm. Food and security are provided. Residents must bring personal items, medications, bedding, blankets and other comforts of home. Residents who need transportation to the shelter should call the Norfolk Cares Center at (757) 664-6510.

Click here for more details.

Chapter 8

OUTER BANKS, N.C.

In Currituck County, an evacuation order was issued for vacationers and guests in Corolla and Carova, beginning at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, while an evacuation order was issued for residents beginning at noon Tuesday.

This evacuation order is ONLY for people in the Outer Banks communities of Corolla and Carova. No evacuation order has been given at this time for mainland Currituck, although residents of low-lying areas are advised to consider leaving for higher ground.

In Perquimans County, there will be a curfew effective nightly, Thursday through Saturday, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., excluding Highway 17 traffic. All liquor, beer, and wine sales will stop at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Residents will not be allowed to purchase firearms, ammunition or explosives.

Additionally, there will be a voluntary evacuation of low lying or manufactured homes. Residents are urged to evacuate to a safe location with relatives or friends. A General Population Shelter will be opened for residents at the Perquimans County High School Gym at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

In Dare County, an evacuation was ordered for all visitors and residents on Hatteras Island beginning Monday, September 10 at noon, while an evacuation of residents and visitors of other parts of Dare County going into effect beginning Tuesday, September 11 at 7 a.m.

In addition to the evacuations, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, and Wright Brothers National Memorial have suspended visitor services and temporarily closed all visitor facilities beginning at noon Monday.

Dare County Schools will be closed for all students and staff on September 11 and through the remainder of the week. All after-school activities on Monday are canceled, with the exception of the ASEP program.

For more information, click here.

Many Outer Banks residents are choosing to ride out Hurricane Florence instead of listening to the mandatory evacuation. Those residents say they are prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at them.

"I got three of my kids with me if it was going to be a category four that is going to slam right into us I probably would have shipped them off with one of my family members," said Chris Larson of Nags Head.

Larson said just because his family is staying, doesn't mean he isn't taking Florence serious. His windows are boarded up, the grill is tied down, and sandbags are stacked at the door.

"We are going to get winds, and it's going to change the tides, and it's going to push stuff up, and it's going to blow crap around, it's going to break down some trees, the power is going to go out," said Larson.

Bob Scott, of Nags Head, also said most of his neighbors are sticking around, which is why he's parking his trailer underneath the house, he doesn't want it to become a deadly projectile.

"I had one storm where I had it underneath the garage, and if I hadn't of had it chained down it would have blown out in the back yard," said Scott. "If it had been hitting right toward the Outer Banks I would have been gone this morning. Wind is a scary thing."

Publix grocery store in Kitty Hawk was packed with people also choosing to ignore evacuation orders. This was one of the only businesses in the area that wasn't completely closed and boarded up.

"There is a lot of people who think we are crazy for staying and other moms who aren't from the area who just don't understand, they say how could you not leave, how could you not follow the mandatory evacuation orders especially with a kid," said mother Diane Klementowich.

Klementowich said as long as you are prepared to spend a week without electricity she has no problem hunkering down and waiting out the wind and rain.

Chapter 9

PORTSMOUTH

On Wednesday, Portsmouth Officials activated a Citizen Hotline: 757-393-5001.

The hotline providing residents with direct access to the emergency operations team. This line should be used to report storm-related concerns, and to ask questions about emergency operations.

The City of Portsmouth also opened three emergency shelters on Wednesday. The emergency shelters are:

  • Churchland Middle School, 4051 River Shore Road, - up to two pets allowed. Pets may be dogs or cats, only.
  • I.C. Norcom High School, 1801 London Boulevard., medical needs
  • Woodrow Wilson High School, 1401 Elmhurst Lane

City Garages are open for residents to relocate their vehicles from low-lying areas. The City Garages are County Street, Harbor Court, Middle Street, and Water Street. Vehicles may remain in unreserved spaces until City Offices resume normal operations.

Chapter 10

SUFFOLK

Due to the change in the track of Hurricane Florence and the downgrade of the impact to the City of Suffolk, City Manager Patrick Roberts announced Wednesday afternoon that the King’s Fork High School emergency shelter, located at 351 Kings Fork Road, will open as originally planned on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

However, the Nansemond River High School emergency shelter will not be opening at this time unless there is a need based on the current weather forecast.

As a reminder, there are no pet drop-offs permitted at emergency shelters, and citizens would need to remain at the shelter during the entire timeframe their pet is being accommodated.

If residents have questions about the emergency shelter, or if they need to make accommodations for a pet since the King’s Fork High School emergency shelter is not pet-friendly, please contact the Suffolk Police Department non-emergency number at 923-2350.

The City of Suffolk Public Works Department will be picking up trash as scheduled on Friday, September 14th. TFC Recycling, the City’s recycling provider, will not be providing pick-up and this collection will not be rescheduled.

Suffolk Transit will continue operations today as scheduled. A determination related to Friday and Saturday operations will be made moving forward. Maps of all Routes, fares, schedules, and more is available for review at www.suffolktransit.org.

Chapter 11

VIRGINIA BEACH

City officials continued to monitor Florence and "adjust its response to the significant shift in the storm path to the south and away from the area," according to a news release Thursday afternoon.

There is the potential for power outages and downed trees due to recent heavy rainfalls and saturated ground, officials said.

Storm surge, expected to be three feet or less above normal tides, remains a threat.

Before Florence arrives, people in Virginia Beach are trying to help the community prepare by filling sandbags and giving out care packages.

Brady Osborne filled up dozens of sandbags for people at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex Wednesday. Osborne said his there was 16 inches of flood damage to his home after Matthew, so he understands the concern.

Virginia Beach Public Works officials said residents have collected nearly 400 tons of sand since Tuesday afternoon. The congregation of Atlantic Shores Baptist Church opened its doors to provide more than 200 care packages to community members in need.

Mom Kristen Hutton diapers, drinks, canned food and other necessities for her children.

“It’s amazing how the community comes together and helps out so much,” Hutton said. “It’s very generous.”

READ MORE: Virginia Beach to offer shelter options for pets

Officials held a briefing laying out their plans for Hurricane Florence on Monday.

City Manager Dave Hansen said he would declare an emergency evaluation order lady for areas throughout Back Bay, Sandbridge and the southern portions of the city.

"Our staff and our executive leadership along with our city council are actively engaged. We are going to dissect the threat an then how we are going to be able to provide services and provide a safe environment for our citizens," said Hansen.

The city's biggest concern with Hurricane Florence is flooding. Director of Public Works Mark Johnson said crews would begin checking the city's pump stations to make sure they are operating properly. Johnson also urged residents to check for debris blocking storm drain systems in the neighborhood while they do their part.

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