Florence: Things you need to know

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Hurricane Florence made landfall on Wrightsville Beach at 7:15 a.m. Friday, Sept. 14. The storm was predicted to linger in southeast North Carolina for several days, causing severe weather and flooding.

Here are some things you may need to know as Hurricane Florence continues its assault on the region.

State of Emergency and Evacuations

A mandatory evacuation order was issued Saturday, Sept. 15 in Bladen County for residents living north of the Cape Fear River, in the vicinity of River Road, Burney Road, Tar Heel Ferry Road and along Harrison Creek.

Flooding is expected to be near or possibly higher than Hurricane Matthew levels. Residents are encouraged to move further inland. The closest shelter would be West Bladen High School. 1600 NC-410, Bladenboro. 

As the effects of Florence grow, counties are updating their states of emergency and response plans.

mandatory evacuation order was issued Saturday, Sept. 15 in Pender County for residents along and near the Black River, the Northeast Cape Fear River and creeks and streams.

“If you had flooding along the Northeast Cape Fear River during Hurricane Floyd, you need to evacuation now,” said Tom Collins, Pender County Emergency manager. “If you had flooding during Hurricane Matthew, you need to evacuate.” 

Crusoe residents were asked to evacuate Sunday due to rising flood waters. Voluntary evacuations began at 12:00 pm today for Fair Bluff area. If you are in a low area that is flood prone, please evacuate to a shelter or another area.  

According to the National Weather Service, the remnants of Hurricane Florence will produce as much as 24-inches of rainfall.

Red Cross and Pender County Health and Human Services is currently operating four shelters. The Pender County shelters are located at Topsail Elementary, Cape Fear Middle School, Malpass Corners Elementary, and Burgaw Elementary School. 

For specific information:


Law enforcement urges people to avoid driving during the storm as much as absolutely possible.

  • Burgaw
  • Brunswick County – effective at dusk through dawn Sunday, Sept. 16
  • Carolina Beach – 24 hours
  • Chadbourn – 6:30 p.m.
  • Fair Bluff – Dusk
  • Leland – 6 p.m.
  • Northwest – 8 p.m.
  • Surf City – 7 p.m.
  • Whiteville – Dusk (only downtown/municipal services district)
  • Pender County – 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
  • Bladen county – 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. 
  • Spring Lake – 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
  • Leland – 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Oak Island – all day
  • Southport – all day, entrances to city are closed until further notice
  • New Hanover County – 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. until further notice


In New Hanover County, the following shelter locations are open as of 7 a.m. Thursday:

  • Codington Elementary School, 4321 Carolina Beach Rd, Wilmington, NC 28412 
  • Trask Middle School, 2900 N College Rd, Wilmington, NC 28405 *TAKING ON WATER, MOVING PEOPLE TO EATON ELM.
  • Johnson Pre-K Center, 1100 McRae St, Wilmington, NC 28401 *AT CAPACITY*
  • Eaton Elementary, 6701 Gordon Road in Wilmington, will open at 5:30 p.m. No pets allowed.
  • Noble Middle School, 6520 Market Street, will open at 6 p.m. No pets allowed. Officials say the facility has no backup generator.
  • Hoggard High School opening Sunday (pet friendly)

New Hanover County is also coordinating transportation to a shelter in Winston-Salem at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, as all of the Wake County shelters were at capacity.

In Bladen County, the following shelter locations will open at noon Wednesday:

  • West Bladen High School, 1600 NC-410, Bladenboro, NC 28320 (Nearing capacity. Only special needs patients and evacuees with animals will be accepted)
  • Bladen Lakes Elementary School, 9554 Johnsontown Rd, Elizabethtown, NC 28337 ** CLOSING – MOVING PEOPLE TO ELIZABETHTOWN MIDDLE SCHOOL
  • East Arcadia Elementary School, 21451 NC-87 E, Riegelwood, NC 28456 
  • Elizabethtown Middle School, 1496 US-701, Elizabethtown, NC 28337 (no cots available, please bring any bedding supplies needed)

In Pender County, the following shelter locations will be open as of 8 a.m. Wednesday:

  • Burgaw Middle School (pet friendly) – MOVING PEOPLE TO BURGAW ELM. – pets will stay at the middle school
  • Cape Fear Middle School (pet friendly)
  • Malpass Corner Elementary (pet friendly)
  • Topsail Elementary 

In Brunswick County, all emergency shelters will open at 2 p.m. Tuesday,  and all are pet-friendly.

  • West Brunswick High School shelter (550 Whiteville Rd., Shallotte). *AT CAPACITY*
  • North Brunswick High School (114 Scorpion Drive, Leland).
  • South Brunswick High School (100 Cougar Road, Boiling Spring Lakes).

If you need help evacuating from Brunswick County call (910) 253-5383.

Columbus County

  • Edgewood Elementary School – 317 East Calhoun Street, Whiteville *AT CAPACITY*
  • Guideway Elementary School – 11570 Swamp Fox Highway East, Tabor City
  • East Columbus High School – 32 Gator Lane, Lake Waccamaw
  • South Columbus High School – 40 Stallion Drive, Tabor City
  • West Columbus High School – 7294 Andrew Jackson Highway Southwest, Cerro Gordo

If you need help getting to a shelter, call (910) 642-8193 or (910) 642-7684

Here’s a suggested list of items to bring to a shelter:

  • Identification
  • Clothing for 3-7 days
  • Pillows
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Food and medication for service animal
  • Daily toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, soap, washcloth, feminine hygiene products)
  • Special dietary foods, infant formula
  • Identification for each family member
  • 7-day supply of medicine in the original bottles if possible
  • Cell phone with charger
  • Books, games and cards
  • Family/friend/caretaker’s emergency contact information
  • Written list of all medications with doctors’ names and phone numbers
  • Glasses, dentures, hearing aids
  • Medical equipment used on a daily basis (wheelchair, walker, cane, oxygen, catheters, etc.)
  • Extra batteries needed for any medical equipment.

Closings and Cancellations

Click here for a list of SCHOOL closures

Road and Bridge Closings

As Hurricane Florence moves into the area, transportation officials expect a significant number of traffic issues and road closures. Several bridges are also expected to close. WECT will update this list as information becomes available. It is advised to stay off the roads during the storm. Don’t drive through waters in which you can’t see the roadway. Remember the saying, “turn around, don’t drown.”

  • Isabel Holmes Bridge will close when winds reach 30 miles per hour
  • Ocean Isle Beach Bridge set to close at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
  • Snow’s Cut Bridge will close Thursday at 10:30 p.m.

Government and School Closings

Area schools and governments continue to update closing information. UNCW issued a mandatory evacuation, and classes at Cape Fear Community College and Brunswick Community College are canceled.

Several events planned for this week and next week have been canceled or postponed, including the Port City RibFest, the Brunswick County Veterans Services Tour and Wilmington Race for the Cure.

Power Outages

Duke Energy expects effects of Florence to be felt for several days or even weeks after the storm. 

Outage Maps:

Duke Energy wants customers to report an outage as soon as possible. You can call (800) 769-3766 or text “OUT” to 57801. You can also sign up for text message alerts about outages and restoration timelines at your home or business.

Representatives from Duke Energy urge everyone to avoid down lines at all costs, and report those to the outage phone number as well.


If using a generator, never bring it indoors, even in the garage, and never refuel the machine while it is running. Duke provides a comprehensive guide to generator safety here.

Reporting downed trees/flooding within Wilmington City limits

  • To report trees or tree limbs blocking roadways within city limits call: (910) 341-7852 (leave a message if no one answers)
  • To report flooding or other stormwater issues within city limits call: (910) 341-4646 (leave a message if no one answers)


Will major bridges shut down?

  • Typically the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge and the Isabel Holmes Bridge will remain open. Other bridges such as Snow’s Cut Bridge will close once winds reach 45 miles per hour. Officials say they will update as the storm approaches.

How can I keep my pets safe?

  • People are strongly urged to take their pets along if they evacuate, or to go to a pet-friendly shelter.
  • Whether you are evacuating with your pet or preparing to stay, make sure to bring along food and water for several days.
  • Officials said county shelters follow regular guidelines and do not euthanize animals unless they are sick, gravely injured or the shelter runs out of space.

What should I do with my car?

  • The City of Wilmington will open its parking deck on 2nd Street starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, and it will remain open and free until the storm has passed, likely sometime the week of Sept. 17. Parking is for automobiles only.

What do all of these hurricane terms mean?

Here are the answers to other frequently asked questions.

How to stay informed:

On Air
The First Alert Meteorologists are keeping a close eye on Florence and will show you the latest models and foretasted tracks during each newscast on WECT.  They will also give updates anytime of the day, as they are needed. Beginning Wednesday, you can also hear updates on the radio at 94.5, 102.7 and 101.3 FM, and at 980 AM.

You can keep an eye on Hurricane Florence by clicking on WECT.com. There, you will find the latest predictions, tracks and radar. Be sure to check out the Hurricane Center and the Interactive Radar.   

On Mobile

Now is the time to download the new WECT Weather App if you haven’t done so already. The app has many features that will help you track the storm and keep you weather aware with push alerts from the National Weather Service and the First Alert Weather Team. Click here to learn more about the app, including how to turn on the tropical storm track over the radar.

If you do not have the app yet, you can download it for Android, iPhone and iPad by clicking the links.

You can also download the WECT News App to see updated information from our reporters in the field and across the region. If you do not have the app yet, you can download it for Android, iPhone and iPad.

Social Media
Join in the conversation on the WECT Community Voice Facebook page. The First Alert Meteorologists will periodically answer your questions during Facebook Live events. We’ll do what we can to keep you informed and answer your questions.

Be sure to follow #FlorenceILM on Twitter and to use the hashtag with your personal weather updates. You’ll also want to be sure to follow  @wectnews and  @wectweather.

See it, Snap it, Send it

Be our eyes. Send us pictures or videos of the storm in your area or of the damage it leaves behind. Text or email your pictures to pics@wect.com. Or visit pics.wect.com.

Storm prep tips from anchors

With so many new people moving into the Cape Fear region in recent years, there’s a good chance some of you don’t quite know what to expect. So we asked some of our veteran journalists for their advice on how to prepare for a hurricane. This is what they had to say: Tips From Anchors

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