On the eve of anticipating Hurricane Florence in McDowell, a local State of Emergency is currently in effect for the county.

During a press conference at McDowell County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Emergency Services Director William Kehler said that, based on current models, Florence is expected to impact the county as early as Friday night.

At noon on Thursday, a local State of Emergency was declared for the city of Marion, Town of Old Fort and for McDowell collectively.

“(Florence) remains a large storm and will pose multiple impacts in McDowell County,” said Kehler. “Multiple hazards exist with this storm including heavy rainfall that could trigger life threatening flash flooding, landslides and gusty winds capable of bringing down trees and power lines. The time to prepare is now.”

According to Kehler, over 70 different agency representatives have been coordinating daily to properly respond to the impending storm.

As of Thursday afternoon, no mandatory evacuations or curfews have been enforced.

In preparation for potential mandatory or voluntary evacuations, the Corpening Memorial YMCA, located at 348 Grace Corpening Road in Marion is being designated as the primary shelter for Hurricane Florence relief. The YMCA, which will be opening on Friday at 6 p.m. ahead of the hurricane’s arrival in McDowell, is fully ADA compliant and has been designated to allow pets to accompany their owners. The shelter will be in operation throughout the weather event. According to Kehler, once storm impacts arrive, transportation to the shelter cannot be guaranteed.

Citizens needing transportation to the YMCA emergency shelter are being asked to contact officials with McDowell County Emergency Management at 828-652-3241 for transportation details.

“Very few people have ever regretted being fully prepared for a disaster,” said Kehler, who urged citizens to have an emergency kit prepared ahead of Florence’s arrival. “This is not the time to panic. This is the time to finish preparing for the storm. Responding successfully to a disaster takes everyone. Our agencies totally embrace the whole-community approach to responding and preparing for a disaster. We are coordinating with local, state and federal partners – including EMS, Emergency Management, 911 Communications, fire departments, Rescue, Law Enforcement, critical health care facilities, the American Red Cross, Department of Social Services, the faith-based community, the school system, DOT, utility companies, Lake Tahoma, NC and US Forest Service, the business community and industries and volunteer agencies among many more.”

Due to the influx of non-emergency calls arriving at the 911 Center, emergency officials urge the public to only call 911 during an emergency to avoid tying up the line. For questions regarding road conditions, dial 511. For general information, dial 211.

Customers who experience an outage during the storm can report it by:

- Report all outages and power line hazards using the following phone numbers:

• Duke Energy Carolinas customers – 1-800-769-3766 (800-POWERON)

• Duke Energy Progress customers – 1-800-419-6356

• Rutherford Electric Membership Corporation customers – 1-800-228-9756

- Visiting duke-energy.com on a desktop computer or mobile device (Duke Energy customers)

- Visiting remc.com on a desktop computer or mobile device (REMC customers)

- Texting OUT to 57801 (Duke Energy customers; standard text and data charges may apply).

• You must register your mobile number first to report via text by texting REG to 57801.

- Stay away from power lines that have fallen or are sagging. Consider all lines energized as well as trees, limbs or anything in contact with lines.

- If a power line falls across a car that you're in, stay in the car. If you MUST get out of the car due to a fire or other immediate life-threatening situation, do your best to jump clear of the car and land on both feet. Be sure that no part of your body is touching the car when your feet touch the ground.

Please report blocked storm drains to the following agencies:

- City of Marion: Public Works Department 828-652-4224.

- Town of Old Fort: Public Works Department 828-668-4244 ext 306

- McDowell County: NCDOT 828-652-4024

For further preparation tips, download the ReadyNC app at https://readync.org/EN/Index.html.

Get today’s top stories right in your inbox. Sign up for our daily newsletter.