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‘Now is the time to prepare,’ Gov. Cooper declares a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Isaias

Hurricane Isaias is moving northwest, and North Carolina needs to be watching closely. The system could hit our coast early next week.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Isaias.

The hurricane is expected to impact the coast Monday and Tuesday.

Gov. Cooper said hurricane preparations will be more complicated with COVID-19. He said both evacuations and sheltering will be different this year due to COVID-19.

“Now is the time to get personally prepared with an emergency plan and kit. Be sure to add masks and face coverings, hand sanitizer and cleaning products to help keep your family healthy,” Cooper said.

Emergency response teams are coordinating with counties along the coast as they finalize preparations and decide about evacuations.

Cooper said he activated the State Emergency Response Team. North Carolina has 75 guardsmen and high water vehicles on standby. The North Carolina Department of Transportation has more than 1,800 personnel, 1,550 pieces of equipment and more than 1,000 chainsaws ready to respond if needed.

RELATED: Hyde County declares state of emergency, Ocracoke evacuated ahead of Hurricane Isaias

Some notable changes this year due to COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Want people living near the coast, or in flood-prone areas - to make plans to stay with family or friends, or at a hotel, if they have to evacuate.

2. Staying at a shelter is not a good option during the pandemic and should only be a last resort.

3. If you live at a safe place inland, offer to let family or friends evacuate to your home.

4. Non-congregate sheltering options like hotels & dorms are preferred this year, but not guaranteed. This option will depend on hotel availability at the time of the storm. Evacuees who need shelter will go first to the reception center to be assigned to a sheltering option

5. Local governments and the American Red Cross are working to implement health screening, social distancing and cleaning protocols in shelters to prevent the spread of the virus. There will be more small shelters, with fewer clients.

The new Know Your Zone program is also in effect. It includes 20 coastal counties that have developed coastal evacuation zones based on areas most at risk due to storm surge and river flooding.

Visit KnowYourZone.nc.gov to see if you live in one of these zones. If you do, remember your zone and listen for it, if evacuations are needed and ordered.

The zones labeled “A” are red in the Know Your Zone maps. They are the highest risk areas. These areas will likely to be evacuated first if needed. The “B” zones are slightly lower risk.