Hurricane Florence: North Carolina Evacuations

Sep 15, 2018
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

As Florence lingers over the Carolinas today, more cities are being evacuated ahead of potentially catastrophic flooding. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned earlier today to take those warnings seriously.

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ROY COOPER: If they tell you to evacuate, please do so immediately. It could save your life.

MARTIN: One city under new evacuation orders today is Fayetteville. It's located about 100 miles inland from the North Carolina coast, and it's home to about 200,000 people. We wanted to know more about what's happening there, so we've called the mayor of Fayetteville, Mitch Colvin.

Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us.

MITCH COLVIN: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: Can you just give us a sense of the conditions there? Are there people stranded? Anything else you want to tell us?

COLVIN: Yeah, well, I mean, we are reeling from, you know, some wind, but we didn't have significant damage there. But our main concern is the heavy flooding. About a year and a half ago, we had a hurricane - Hurricane Matthew, who rendered some - a tremendous amount of damage to us with flooding. And so we have grave concerns right now, and we have projections that this storm's flooding capacity could exceed Matthew's. So we're trying to help people preserve life and take this serious, and we're evacuating in a mandatory way areas in and around our river.

MARTIN: Can you just tell us a little bit more about how that evacuation is going? Are you finding that people are willing to leave? Are you finding that they're resisting going? What are you seeing?

COLVIN: Well, for the last 24 hours, we kind of suggested it and asked people to do it on a voluntary basis. We just enacted a mandatory evacuation early this afternoon. And so we have police officers and fire department members going door to door impressing upon people to evacuate. We've made it clear that those who failed to yield to the recommendation of evacuation will not have any help available after 3:00 p.m. tomorrow in the event that they are in trouble. And so we're trying to help people take this serious, and we are in the process of recommending them to one of the eight shelters that we have in and around the city.

MARTIN: You mentioned earlier that Fayetteville was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew about two years ago, and that really was a crisis. I mean, there was catastrophic flooding, there were a number of deaths. It has to feel, in a way, like you're reliving that. But can you just tell us about, like, the aftermath of that? Because, looking ahead to when this storm is finally, you know, over, what do you think the recovery's going to look like? You have any sense now what your biggest needs are going to be?

COLVIN: Well, it was a long road before. We had a lot of people that were just getting back into their lives, and we had some people that were not yet recovered. And so it took a tremendous amount of time to get resources from the federal and state level into the hands of the people. And so, hopefully, that won't be the case this time.

You know, last time, it was very similar because it was a tropical storm, so people really didn't take it serious. But it was the aftermath of the flooding, and so we are able to predict a lot more about what our water flow problems will be. Well, we hope that some of the bureaucracy that existed before with the state and federal government, getting resources to the local level won't be around - won't be a problem this time.

MARTIN: Well, we're keeping a good thought for you here. That's the mayor of Fayetteville, N.C., Mitch Colvin.

Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for speaking with us.

COLVIN: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.