State officials urge people not to travel

RALEIGH – State Highway Patrol, emergency response and transportation officials are urging motorists not to travel in many areas in southeastern North Carolina because many roads remain impassable due to flooding and road conditions are continuing to change.

Travel is not recommended in the following counties: Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, western Craven (west of U.S. 17), Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett, Hoke, southern Johnston (south of U.S. 70), Jones, Lenoir, New Hanover, Pender, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland and southern Wayne (south of U.S. 70 Business).

“Several roadways in the affected areas are still under water, presenting very dangerous driving conditions,” said Colonel Glenn McNeill Jr., commander of the State Highway Patrol. “While some routes are starting to open, motorists should avoid travel in flooded areas unless absolutely necessary and should never drive on flooded roads.”

There are many roads where water levels will continue to rise making the roads impassable during the next 72 hours or more depending on when the local rivers crest. Although water is receding on some roads, those roads and bridges may be damaged and road closures are still in effect. Motorists should follow signs to avoid dangerous roads.

Under normal conditions, GPS systems are reliable for navigation but are less reliable in the aftermath of a hurricane when conditions are frequently changing. As such, motorists should avoid completely relying on their GPS systems for roadway information as these systems may re-route them to a road that is closed.

Many areas affected by the storm only have a few safe roads in and out. These routes are vital for recovery efforts and need to be kept clear of excess traffic and stalled or wrecked vehicles that can hinder recovery work. Motorists are urged to keep those routes clear for law enforcement, fire, EMS, National Guard, utility companies, and others who must have access to the hardest-hit areas of the state.

“We’re working hard to get essentials such as food, water and fuel to the hardest-hit parts of our state,” said Mike Sprayberry, director of the N.C. Division of Emergency Management. “Residents and visitors can help us by staying away from the areas most impacted by the hurricane while these relief efforts are in full swing.”

Sections of Interstates 95 and 40 remain flooded with multiple closures. At this time, there is not a safe, stable or reliable route for the public to use to get to and from Wilmington.

For updated information on road conditions, dial 511 or visit www.DriveNC.gov.