Fayetteville officials urge public to prepare for Hurricane Irma

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Fayetteville and Cumberland County leaders are calling on the public to prepare and seek shelter ahead of Hurricane Irma's impact in the Sandhills. (WTVD)

Fayetteville and Cumberland County leaders are calling on the public to prepare and seek shelter ahead of Hurricane Irma's impact in the Sandhills.

In 2016, Hurricane Matthew left parts of Fayetteville and surrounding towns under water.

READ MORE: Hurricane Matthew has Sandhills residents concerned about more flooding

"That flood came and really put us in a hole," said Lawrence Blackwell, former owner of All American City Gym. "It's a hole I just couldn't recover from."

Hurricane Matthew blew through Fayetteville dumping at least 12 inches of rain; it left some homes and businesses, like Blackwell's, in waist-deep flood waters.

"I need to unplug these treadmills and all this other stuff in the building," he said. "So, I'm running through the water and suddenly realized it's all under water. I'm wasting my time."

The damage was so severe it forced him to let go of almost 20 workers and shut the doors to a business he had invested so much in.

"Due to the overhead and everything else I had to recover from, it just would have been too great of a hole I would have had to come back from," said Blackwell.

He had liability insurance but since he didn't own the property, he didn't qualify for flood insurance.

RELATED: With Irma in sight, is now the right time to buy flood insurance?

His best advice for others is to prepare. It's the same advice city officials are giving, too.

"We don't want citizens to let (their) guard down," said Cumberland County Emergency Services Director Randy Beeman. "They need to be in a state of readiness at all times."

Thursday afternoon, Cumberland County officials held a news conference informing residents of their storm preparation plans.



In case the storm hits, residents are asked to have a 72-hour kit handy for each family member.

Also, a full tank of gas and plenty of food and water.

RELATED: Evacuation routes for the Fayetteville region

"Not saying that we will have (a) Matthew this time around, but we need to be ready and prepared," said Beeman.

Related Topics:
weatherhurricane irmahurricanesevere weatherfayetteville newscumberland county newsCumberland CountyFayetteville
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