Gov. Mike Easley says more people living inland should expect rain and high winds from Tropical Storm Hanna.
Easley told reporters Friday the westward shift in the storm track now means the Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point area should expect to feel the effects of Hanna by Friday night. Forecasters already said the weather would affect areas farther east.
The storm should still bring about 3 to 5 inches of rain to parts of the state, with higher amounts in the northeastern part of the state. Winds in some areas could reach 70 miles per hour.
Easley said several southeastern counties have announced voluntary evacuations.
Up to 270 National Guard troops and 144 Highway Patrol troopers are ready to help with the recovery process. So are utility crews.
North Carolina is now under a state of emergency.
Governor Mike Easley spoke at 2 p.m. in Raleigh about Hanna and the threat from Ike, the Category 4 hurricane that appears to be following in Hanna's footsteps.
The governor said Ike is likely to affect the state at this point, that it is currently forecast to take a similar track as Hanna.
Hanna's track "takes the storm over Brunswick County into North Carolina, into the Greenville-Washington area, up through Elizabeth City where it would exit the state," Easley said.
There are phone numbers set up to obtain information. A state hotline, which is bilingual, is 888-835-9966. The TTY number is 877-877-1765.
"People need to prepare now," Easley said.
The governor said the wind and rain will probably be strong in the East. He stressed that Hanna is expected to be a Category 1 hurricane when it comes ashore, but that could change.
"Because the storm is speeding up, the good news is we expect to get less rain than we thought yesterday," Easley said.
The governor said five inches of rain are expected instead of ten, but that's still enough to create a lot of flooding especially with a coastal surge.
He had words for those who live in flood-prone areas.
"If you are asked to evacuate and you are in these low-lying areas, please listen," Easley reminded residents, again mentioning low-lying areas in Craven and Carteret counties.
Easley outlined the state's mobilization, which includes thousands of national guard members, law enforcement officers, department of transportation workers, swift water rescue teams, state medical assistance teams, public health surveillance teams and FEMA partners.
He urged people to stay in place once the storm is over and not drive on flooded roads, as well as keep children out of fast-running streams and creeks.
Easley again reminded North Carolina residents that at the current time, Hurricane Ike is on the same track as Hanna, and Josephine is cranking up behind that storm.
"Everybody in North Carolina, pay attention for the next few weeks," Easley said.
As of 2 p.m. Thursday, Ike was a Category 4 storm with 140 miles per hour winds.
We'll post the video from Easley's press conference shortly.
"We want to be ready from the mountains to the coast," Easley said in Wednesday's press conference from Raleigh.
Easley said a major concern is flooding, as 10 inches or more of rain is possible. Last week's flooding of 70 homes and businesses in the Piedmont was caused by 11 inches of rain.
Of particular concern? Those areas already saturated.
In fact, Governor Easley said it would be "better off the east getting this flooding than in the Piedmont."
He warned people in low-lying, flood-prone areas to pay close attention to the storm, mentioning the town of Harlowe on the Carteret-Craven county line here in Eastern Carolina.
"If you are asked to evacuate, please evacuate," Easley said.
Another concern Easley discussed is behind Hanna. Tropical Storms Ike and Josephine could impact the East Coast as well.
He said very preliminary tracks show Ike could impact North Carolina next week, which could be a problem if there is significant flooding from Hanna.
"People have to be ready for Hanna and Ike before Friday," Easley said.
The governor said state emergency management officials began coordination this week with other organizations.
The state emergency response team was activated Wednesday morning.
Governor Easley said appropriate parties have been notified, like the swift water rescue teams and state medical assistance teams.
He said the state warehouses in Tarboro and near Albemarle are filled with supplies, like food, water and sand bags. Government vehicles have been fueled and equipment has been tested, Easley said.
Easley stressed the need for personal responsibility.
"We can have everyone on the state level ready, but citizens have to be watching and be ready to evacuate if necessary," Easley said.
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