NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – A new law means you could be fined and charged with a crime if you don't pack up and leave when local emergency management officials issue a mandatory evacuation order.
The General Assembly passed the legislation earlier this year. It goes into effect October 1. The law makes it a class-two misdemeanor to not leave when you're ordered to do so.
Those who choose to ride out the storm could face a $1,000 fine and be removed from their home.
Warren Lee, New Hanover County's Emergency Management Director, said most people comply with the evacuation orders. However, some refuse to leave.
"There's always going to be some folks who won't go," he said. "They have lived here all their lives and they tell us they have never seen a hurricane destroy their house. So that is the kind of thing we deal with each season. We don't order evacuations unless we feel you staying would be a serious threat to your life."
Lee said the new law gives local law enforcement more authority to force people to pack up and leave, if their lives are in danger.
However, some who live along the coast think it goes too far.
"If somebody wants to stay I think they should be allowed to stay without being fined," said Wrightsville Beach resident Murray Pool. "The current rule here is that if you stay during a hurricane, you are on your own. I'm OK with that. But when you start fining people who want to stay, I think the government is going to far again."
The new rules also impact gun owners.
Those who own weapons are now allowed to take them if evacuating their home during a governor-declared state of emergency.
The wording of an old law made it illegal to move your weapons if the governor declared a state of emergency.
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