WILMINGTON -- As Gov. Mike Easley (D-NC) visits Wilmington, his attention is split: tracking Ernesto south of Florida, and making sure everyone here is ready.
"I think people have learned from Katrina and other storms here from Fran to Floyd," said Easley. "We had the big flood. When we ask for an evacuation, we mean it and it is serious."
Easley said that Katrina was a prime example of what would happen if residents were not ready for a storm. He said to follow a couple of rules:
If there is an evacuation, the eastbound lane of Interstate-40 will be reversed, so that all four lanes will be heading out of town westbound.
But local emergency management officials said that a lane reversal could cause some problems.
"Some people see it as a way to stay to the very last minute with the knowledge that we'll have four lanes going west and they won't have any problems," said Warren Lee of New Hanover County Emergency Management. "One of the biggest problems we anticipate is getting people to I-40, the bottleneck that will occur in Wilmington on I-40."
Easley said if residents were prepared and willing to evacuate, a storm like Katrina would be less devastating to the area.
"As long as our citizens are prepared to cooperate with us, we'll come out of everything just fine," said Easley.
Reported by Kacey Gaumer