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Hurricane warning issued for parts of NC coast

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. — A hurricane warning is in effect for parts of the North Carolina coast, including Brunswick County, according to the National Weather Service.

The county, which is made up of Caswell Beach, Holden Beach, Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach, is expected to be hit with sustained winds of 50-56 mph and wind gusts up to 85 mph from early Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon.

A press release from the Town of Oak Island is calling for a mandatory evacuation for all visitors and a voluntary evacuation for residents:

The National Weather Service is calling for 11-13 inches of rain, which they called a “phenomenal” amount of rain in a conference call with local governments this morning. The ground is already saturated, and it is extremely likely we will experience flooding. Flash floods are a very real possibility, especially Saturday afternoon and evening, and we encourage all citizens to take that into consideration when making plans. Please do not decide you want to leave after we have already had several inches of rainfall as even inland roads may already be flooded at that point.

As of 11 a.m. Friday, Hurricane Matthew was about 45 miles east-southeast of Daytona Beach, Florida. The storm has shifted slightly northward and is now expected to bring heavier bands of wind and rain further north Saturday as it approaches North Carolina.

[Image of 5-day forecast and coastal areas under a warning or a watch]

Gov. McCrory has declared a state of emergency in all 100 counties and a tropical storm warning is now in effect for areas of North Carolina south of Surf City.

The governor said state emergency crews are ready to respond quickly. Swift water rescue teams and North Carolina National Guard resources are already staged in the areas of eastern North Carolina where they will likely be needed the most: Williamston, New Bern, Elizabethtown, Laurinburg and Sanford. High water vehicles are staged in New Hanover and Brunswick counties and other high water vehicles are being held as reserves in case they are needed. Three Helo-Aquatic Rescue Teams are also being activated for deployment this weekend across North Carolina.

Impacts from the storm are expected to be greatest between early Saturday into Sunday morning. During the next three days, the storm is predicted to dump as much as 15 inches of rain on southeastern North Carolina and between 5 and 10 inches of rain in eastern North Carolina, and 2-5 inches in central parts of the state.

The storm is expected to pack sustained winds of 40-55 mph in southeastern North Carolina with gusts up to 70 mph and sustained winds of between 20 mph and 45 mph in other areas of eastern North Carolina. The governor said heavy rain and winds from the storm could knock down trees, create significant flooding and heavy storm surge in coastal areas, and bring widespread power outages. This could especially impact the Sandhills region which recently experienced severe flooding.

“We have seen how powerful this storm is,” said NC Gov. Pat McCrory in a press conference earlier. “I’m urging residents in central and eastern North Carolina to be alert, monitor the storm closely and be prepared to evacuate if it becomes necessary. We’re very concerned about the heavy rainfall and winds we’re expecting during the next 72 hours. The rains will likely bring heavy flooding and storm surge in coastal areas and dangerous conditions and significant power outages throughout central and eastern North Carolina.”