By Erin Smith
Bladen County officials have declared a State of Emergency on Monday morning ahead of Hurricane Florence. Bladen County Emergency Management Director Bradley Kinlaw said Bladen County residents need to complete their storm preparations.
The State of Emergency allows for the “execution of the Emergency Operation Plan” and everyone is asked to comply with any instructions they receive from Bladen County Emergency Management officials.
“Folks in Bladen County need to take this storm very seriously,” said Kinlaw.
As of the 11 a.m. forecast, Hurricane Florence is now a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 115 miles per hour and was located 580 miles south-southeast of Bermuda. The storm is moving west at 13 miles per hour.
Kinlaw said, if the storm continues on its current track, Bladen County will likely receive winds in excess of 100 miles per hour. Residents can expect downed trees and power lines and should plan to be without power for several days, according to Kinlaw.
He stated Bladen County is also forecast to receive up to 7 inches of rain and residents who reside in low lying areas and along rivers should take the necessary steps to prepare in the event of flooding.
Kinlaw said residents should also be preparing their emergency kits and securing their property. He said objects that can blow around such as trash cans and porch furniture should be secured or brought indoors.
Bladen County Schools Public Information Officer Valerie Newton said Bladen County Schools will be closed from Wednesday, September 12, through Friday, September 14. Wednesday will be an optional teacher work day.
According to their Social Media page, Emereau:Bladen Officials have announced they, too, will be closed from Wednesday, September 12, through Friday, September 14.
Kinlaw said resident can go to ReadyNC.org to learn more about how to prepare their emergency supply kits, see a listing of shelters once they open, learn about travel conditions and much more.
The University of North Carolina at Wilmington issued a voluntary evacuation for students beginning at 12 noon on Monday. The NC Department of Transportation announced Elwell Ferry is closed and will remain closed through the duration of Hurricane Florence.