Families, government leaders prepare for possibility of Hurricane Earl
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TOPSAIL BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- For now it looks like the track of Hurricane Earl will take the storm just past our area. Still, FEMA and the National Hurricane Center are urging East Coast residents to be prepared for the hurricane and severe weather in case the storm track changes unexpectedly.

Randy Corlis knows the importance of planning. His Topsail Beach home was hit about 25 years ago during Hurricane Diane.

"It was pretty scary," Corlis said. "Things got gray, the ocean was really rough, and we taped up the windows. We didn't have the hurricane shutters like we do now and prepared the best we could. Our children were very small, and so we packed them up, and off we went, and we stayed with relatives in Raleigh."

The federal government says now is the time to get ready.

"Today's the day to make sure you've got your family disaster plan, that you've checked your supplies and then if evacuations become required later this week, you're able to implement your plan," National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read said during a national teleconference with reporters Tuesday.

"Because of the proximity to the coast, evacuations may be required if the storm does not make that turn as forecasted and tracks a little bit more towards the west," FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told reporters.

In case that happens, FEMA is deploying an emergency response team to North Carolina. On a local level, Topsail Beach Town Manager Tim Holloman says it could take 12 hours to evacuate the entire island.

"Usually Surf City and North Topsail, depending on the approach of the storm, will follow our lead," he said. "We'll be the first to evacuate, and then Surf City will follow after us."

If Earl hits, Corlis and his family have a game plan.

"We'll have our important stuff and valuables packed and ready to go, and then, you know, there's only two ways off the island, so we'll just have to follow the main routes out," Corlis said.

North Topsail Beach town officials are using their reverse 911 system to leave voicemails and send e-mails to residents asking them to tie down any loose items on their property and stay out of the water for the next few days because of dangerous rip currents.

For more information about Hurricane Earl and how to properly prepare your family, visit www.ready.gov and www.fema.gov.

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