LUMBERTON — Robeson County residents who have been begging Hurricane Florence to go in another direction appear to be getting their wish — at the expense of South Carolina.
The latest track from the National Hurricane Center now has Florence making landfall sometime on Friday below Myrtle Beach as a diminished hurricane and then moving to Columbia and Greenville as a tropical storm.
Robeson County officials were meeting today at noon, and their message remains the same — and that is not to relax and to continue to prepare for the worst. For days the hurricane tracker had Florence making landfall in Wilmington and then heading toward Lumberton or taking a path not to far away, which promised massive amounts of rain and heavy winds that would drop trees and power lines, and cause widespread outages.
If the new track holds, Robeson County can still expect heavy weather, but the rain and damage will not be as extensive as previously thought. Local officials continue to say they think the Lumber River, which is 6 feet shy of the level it was at for Hurricane Matthew, will be able to absorb rain without massive flooding. Flash floods, however, are expected.
County officials say they will open four shelters on Thursday, at Lumberton High, St. Pauls High, Purnell Swett and Fairmont Middle schools. But in a change the shelters will now open at 8 a.m., not at noon as previously announced.
The public schools, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and Robeson Community College have suspended classes for Thursday and Friday.
Editor Donnie Douglas can be reached at 910-416-5649 or [email protected]