North Carolina Ready to Help During, After Irma

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Hotels, shelters in NC welcome Floridians to ride it out

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Raleigh, N.C. — With most of North Carolina out of the path of Hurricane Irma, residents of the Tar Heel State readied to help others.

Five shelters are open across the state for those fleeing the high winds, pounding rain and storm surge the hurricane brought to south Florida. The shelters, located in Gaston, Guliford, Henderson, Mecklenburg and Johnston counties, all allow pets.

Hotel and motel managers along Interstate 95 in North Carolina also saw an influx of guests from Florida needing rooms. After driving from North Port Florida, Dusty King found a place to rest at the Masters Inn in Johnston County.

"My wife went on a site to get hotels, and they said, ‘You have a hotel, congratulations.’ We got to the hotel and they didn’t have any record of it. so we had to leave that one," he said. They continued to the Triangle where they’ll spend a few nights waiting for the worst of the storm to pass.

At the Red Cross shelter in Smithfield, no one had checked in, but some families had stopped by for water. They are able to take in up to 75 people if necessary.

In Greensboro, the Red Cross was ready to house up to 500 people.

"It’s a very frustrating event that they’re going through," said John Wilson. "I think once they get here and they see the care that we give them, I think that relieves some of the pressure a little bit."

Nearly 7 million people in the Southeast were warned to get out of the storm’s path, including 6.4 million in Florida alone.

According to Duke Energy, more than 400 line workers, damage assessors and support personnel will depart the Raleigh area to head to Florida to tackle Hurricane Irma damage and restore service for customers experiencing power outages following Hurricane Irma’s wrath.

Even the 82nd Airborne division at Ft. Bragg plans to deploy 150 members to Florida on Sunday to provide support and relief for hurricane victims.

More than 1 million residents had already lost power by Sunday morning, and it could be days before officials can provide food and water to those struggling in the aftermath of the powerful storm.

Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long said Hurricane Irma is going to pose challenges for first responders. "The power’s going to be out for a long time. It’s going to be tough for us to get in to perform search and rescue in South Florida. We have to wait till all the elements pass through," he said. "Once this system passes through it’s going to be a race to save lives and sustain lives."

Florida has already spent $77 million ahead of Irma’s arrival. Scott has called up and sent out 7,000 National Guardsmen across the state, some of whom have been dispatched to the more than 400 shelters that have been set up.

The challenges in the immediate aftermath of the storm will be many: Restoring across the state, removing debris from roads, dealing with possible fuel shortages, and making sure nursing home and hospital patients who were evacuated can safely return.

State officials are also fearful the massive rain that was soaking the state could also lead to flash floods.

"If we still have a house, and there’s still power to it, and it’s still good, then we’re going to turn around and go back," King said.

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Miami construction crane collapses in Irma’s winds

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