Planning and confusion oftentimes go hand-in-hand during any emergency situation. While there was a plan to evacuate citizens during Hurricane Florence, there appeared to be a lack of understanding about what constituted an unincorporated and incorporated area. In one well-publicized instance, Onslow County officials issued an evacuation order for all residents in unincorporated areas leading to a larger-than-expected exodus of citizens from incorporated areas as well.
“The incorporated areas mean municipal boundaries,” said Norman Bryson, director of Onslow County emergency services. “Incorporated areas include Jacksonville, North Topsail Island and Swansboro. The unincorporated areas are the areas outside of city limits.”
These locations are defined under general statute 166A. This is the emergency management statute for the state of North Carolina. This statute does not allow the county to enact an evacuation order at a higher level than what the municipalities enact.
“People tried to go by zip codes during Hurricane Florence, and that was part of the confusion,” Bryson said. “It was vital that residents paid attention to city limits, because that was the deciding factor in whether their location was incorporated or unincorporated, and that in turn affected the evacuation order.”
Onslow County Emergency Services are currently engaged in a series of coordination meetings with Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, as well as Onslow County officials, to push out the information residents need to know in the event they receive an evacuation order during another.
It’s important that citizens of Onslow County stay informed on the procedures and policies for their local community, as well as prepare and stay alert in the case of severe weather.
For more information about what type of area your residence is in, visit http://www.onslowcountync.gov/ or contact Onslow County Emergency Services at (910)-347-4270.