CHARLOTTE, N.C. (September 6, 2017) - AAA Carolinas is urging Carolinians to adhere to government officials as Hurricane Irma heads toward the U.S. At this time, Irma's path is not fully clear. AAA Carolinas will continue to closely track the storm to provide the most up-to-date details.
"At this time, we do not know if Irma will make its way to the Carolinas, but it is clear that this is a powerful storm that has the ability to change directions quickly" said Dave Parsons, President and CEO of AAA Carolinas. "Natural disasters can be unpredictable, but we want to arm Carolinians with the most information that is available to help ensure their safety."
Long-range weather models forecast Irma will turn northward early next week over Florida and the Southeast. However, Irma's changing storm track could bring an altered forecast in the coming days.
Hurricane Irma is currently a strong Category 5 storm, with extensive damage expected along its path. According to the
National Hurricane Center, hurricane warnings and watches are in effect for much of the Caribbean. The storm is expected to move over portions of the Virgin Islands today, pass near Puerto Rico this afternoon or tonight, and pass near the coast of the Dominican Republic on Thursday. Florida is likely to see impacts from the storm this weekend, and a mandatory evacuation of visitors is beginning this morning in the Florida Keys.
Regionally, AAA teams are preparing for the impact Irma may have on our members. The safety of our response teams and members is our number one priority. AAA Carolinas recommends following The Department of Transportation for evacuation routes and updated information.
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Before a Storm:
• Locate all of your important records (such as passports, birth certificates and insurance documents) in advance of a natural disaster and secure them in a bank safety deposit box to avoid damage.
• Plan your family's evacuation route and have an emergency plan.
• Comprise an emergency kit of bottled water, non-perishable food, batteries, flashlights and first aid supplies.
• Secure your property by tying down any freestanding outdoor items. Reinforce your garage doors.
• Keep trees and shrubs trimmed to improve their wind resistance.
• Inventory your belongings and keep valuable belongings in a waterproof pouch, including documents and photos.
During a Storm:
• Pay close attention to hurricane alerts. Know the difference between a hurricane watch (hurricane-type conditions are likely in your area) and a hurricane warning (a hurricane is expected within 24 hours).
• Evacuate if possible. Use the evacuation plan you've already prepared, leave early and during daylight hours.
• Stay calm.
After a Storm:
• Return home only after Emergency Management officials say it is okay.
• Keep in mind that flash flooding can occur and that roads and bridges may be damaged.
• To verify road conditions after a hurricane call: 511 in North Carolina and 888-877-9151 in South Carolina.
• Be aware of hazards relative to power lines, polluted water and the possibility of fire due to low water pressure.
• Expect damage assessment teams to do an extensive review of all areas and insurance representatives to be on the scene immediately following a hurricane to expedite the handling of claims. Notify your AAA insurance agent of any losses and leave word where you can be reached. Keep in mind that hardship cases are settled first, so please be patient.
AAA Travel is also closely monitoring Hurricane Irma and working with travel partners to receive the latest updates from cruise lines, tour operators and airlines.
As AAA Carolinas continues to watch Irma's track, Carolinians are still feeling the effects of Hurricane Harvey at the pump. The statewide average of North Carolina has hit $2.63 (a 40 cent jump since Harvey) and the statewide average of South Carolina sits at $2.53 (a 42 cent jump). Nationally, gas prices are pennies away from topping the highest price Americans have paid for a gallon of gas in more than two years ($2.67).
Consumers will continue to feel pain at the pump with gas prices potentially increasing an additional five to ten cents in the week ahead. However, price increases are expected to drop by end of September, depending on what happens with Hurricane Irma.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is reporting that eight Gulf Coast refineries are in the process of restarting, which accounts for about 18 percent of Gulf Coast refining capabilities. At its peak, Harvey shuttered 27 percent of U.S. processing capacity. No refineries have returned to normal rates, but at least four are operating at reduced rates.
Meanwhile, pipelines forced to take pre-cautionary shut downs caused by Harvey either have resumed operations, including the Colonial Pipeline, or are in the process of coming back online.
AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 2.1 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.