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North Carolina Residents Bracing Themselves As Hurricane Florence Nears


Hurricane prep, evacuations, emergency shelters - people along the East Coast are bracing themselves for Florence. The storm is churning now in the Atlantic as a Category 4 hurricane, and it's expected to make landfall Thursday or Friday. FEMA administrator Brock Long says Florence could be the most dangerous storm in the history of the Carolinas, but states as far north as Delaware should be ready.


In a moment we'll look at the factors that make Florence so threatening. First, North Carolina is preparing for the brunt of the storm. Today Governor Roy Cooper had this warning.


ROY COOPER: Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don't bet your life on riding out a monster.

MARILYN CULLISON: No emergency services will be available because the vehicles will not be able to reach people. There will be no shelters open in the county or surrounding counties.

CORNISH: That's Marilyn Cullison of Swansboro, a town that's on the Intracoastal Waterway. She was planning to shelter in place with her husband, dog, neighbors and their pets.

CULLISON: The fact that our home is relatively new with the latest hurricane standards as far as tie-downs, reinforcement, shutters, glass that's hurricane-proof - and we've weathered several hurricanes in the house. However, none of them have been a Category 4.

CORNISH: Cullison says she's worried about flooding inland if she evacuates. But as far as staying, all she can think about are past hurricanes that have hit North Carolina, like Hazel in 1954.

CULLISON: I've seen pictures of that devastation. So I'm not sure I want to stay here for that.

SHAPIRO: About 80 miles away outside of Wilmington, N.C., John Albert is planning to stay put.

JOHN ALBERT: None of my immediate neighbors are leaving, which is about five people within a mile. Some of them are elderly in their 80s. And I feel like they're making that choice, and I should respect that.

SHAPIRO: Even though he's not evacuating, he did send his daughter inland to Durham to stay with family. Albert has filled up his truck, and he's gotten his generator ready.

ALBERT: I made sure that I have enough feed for my animals, and I'm going to pick up a bunch of round bales of hay for my horses, ID tags braided into their manes.

SHAPIRO: That's a trick he remembers from Hurricane Matthew two years ago - braid ID tags into his horses' manes in case they get away. He says his property is not prone to flooding, but he is worried about the damage in the city where he works as a math teacher.

CORNISH: Bill Firmer is the store manager of a Lowe's in the south part of Wilmington. Things have been busy. People are buying the usual storm supplies - plywood, flashlights, batteries and tarps.

BILL FIRMER: This is probably the first time I've seen people prepare so far in advance. I think it has to do with some of the storms that we've seen in the past and then the fact that this storm is forecasted to be such a serious storm that people are paying attention.

SHAPIRO: Not just customers - Lowe's management, too. They'll close stores in the path of the storm tonight so that employees can evacuate or make their own storm preparations. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.