Hurricane Matthew could make landfall anywhere on the East Coast, with its impact felt well inland, so Clinton and Sampson County leaders are keeping a close eye on the storm’s path.
As of late Tuesday, Matthew was a Category 4 major hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph, moving north at 10 mph. According to the National Hurricane Center, hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the storm’s center, with tropical storm-force winds extending outward up to 185 miles from the storm’s center.
The hurricane made landfall in Haiti on Tuesday with top sustained winds near 145 mph, and the latest computer models predicted a path edging closer to the U.S. East Coast, the National Hurricane Center reported.
Sampson County assistant manager and public information officer Susan Holder said the county’s “control groups” participated in a conference call on Tuesday and are getting constant updates.
“For now, we are monitoring the projected path of Hurricane Matthew,” Holder said Tuesday. “Emergency Management personnel have begun their resource checks, including generators, shelters and shelter supply kits. They have begun to plan staffing schedules for additional personnel for the weekend.”
Holder said the county is utilizing social media to get the word out on suggested preparedness efforts for citizens, including the “Sampson County” Facebook page and on Twitter @CountyofSampson.
“We’ll be using those to disseminate information regarding the storm,” Holder noted.
Clinton City manager Shawn Purvis said the city officials were likewise preparing for impact, while keeping abreast of the storm’s path.
“At this time we will continue to monitor the storm,” Purvis stated Tuesday. “We have begun meeting with county Emergency Management for updates. A lot can still change over the next few days. We have topped off our fuel supply and are ensuring working order for equipment, vehicles, and generators today and tomorrow.”
City officials met late Tuesday to discuss the potential impact on weekend events. The 30th annual Court Square Street Fair is on tap for this Saturday, with Cycle NC coming through town on Thursday. Those events were up in the air as of Tuesday evening.
“We will be making a determination on the street fair (Wednesday) afternoon,” the city manager stated. “In all likelihood, it will be cancelled. I do not anticipate us rescheduling it.”
Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for 66 counties in central and eastern North Carolina on Monday as Hurricane Matthew began a course that could take it along the East Coast.
McCrory said he made the declaration at the request of N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. The governor said the declaration would immediately help farmers clear their fields of crops already impacted by heavy rain over the last two weeks.
The governor said he doesn’t want other crops ruined, so truck weight restrictions and hours of service are lifted under the emergency declaration to allow farmers to take their harvest to market.
A hurricane watch was issued Tuesday for parts of Florida’s Atlantic Coast as Hurricane Matthew slowly roared through the Caribbean, pounding Haiti with heavy rain and powerful winds and tides.
It was expected to move near or over eastern Cuba Tuesday afternoon and then into the Bahamas. Matthew could move very close to the east coast of Florida later this week, as well as Georgia and the Carolinas. It could make landfall anywhere from Florida to Maine.
At a minimum, impacts along the coast would mean “very dangerous beach and boating conditions.”
Some of the hurricane safety tips provided by the county include:
• Creating an emergency plan, noting safe locations, and reviewing it with everyone in the home
• Stocking up on supplies, including necessities such as water, blankets, first-aid kits, flashlights, batteries, radios and any pet care items
• Having an out-of-town contacts to they can check on your whereabouts
• Protecting important documents such as ID cards and other vital information in secured, waterproof containers
• Having an evacuation route before the hurricane hit, to include keeping a full tank of gas
• Following all instructions from authorities regarding evacuation or other safety protocols. Check radio, TV and other media outlets for emergency information
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.