BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Don't let your guard down despite Hurricane Florence weakening as the storm approaches the coast. That's the message Commissioner Frank Williams had for residents Thursday morning.
"Don't be deceived by the fact that this is now a category two storm," Williams explained in a video posted to Brunswick County Emergency Service's Facebook page. "While the intensity may have technically gone down, the wind field is expanded, it's still going to bring a lot of rain, it's still going to cause significant flooding, it's likely to bring a significant storm surge to our coast."
Williams warned residents who evacuated to not attempt to return to their homes until the storm has passed.
If you still need to be evacuated, Williams urges residents to contact the county's Emergency Operations Center at 910-253-5383 and try to come to one of the two county shelters currently accepting evacuees.
In Shallotte, crews are going door-to-door and asking residents who haven't evacuated yet to reconsider.
"[We] are going to be going out today to make sure that these folks are again aware of that. Still, we're talking about hours before landfall so we're really encouraging them at this point...if you're not going to evacuate, this is it," said Shallotte Fire Rescue Chief Paul Dunwell.
The department is urging those who stay to fill out an online form so they can contact you after the storm has passed and make sure you're safe.
Meanwhile, in Ocean Isle Beach, Sgt. Stevenson with the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office explained during a ride-along Thursday morning that only one resident refused to evacuate from the island. The resident was an older woman who just didn't want to leave her home.
Law enforcement has currently closed off the Odell Williamson Bridge and no one is allowed to enter or leave Ocean Isle Beach. Officers will take shelter at a fire station next to the bridge when winds reach 55 mph.
The Publix in Ocean Isle Beach was one of only a few stores open and Robin Edwards was spending her birthday stocking up on some last minute supplies.
"We're just a couple of blocks down in Branchwood Bay. We have all our animals, our cat. We have plenty of supplies. We have propane to cook with if the power goes out," Edwards said.
In Sunset Beach, waves were whipping the coastline with more frequency as the outer bands of Hurricane Florence began hitting the North Carolina coastline.