LUMBERTON — More than 6,000 Robeson County customers with Lumbee River Electric Membership were without power this morning as Hurricane Florence, now a Cat 1 storm but plenty dangerous, continues its slow march westward at about 5 mph.
That is according to Emily Jones, a public information officer with Robeson County, whose statement said that 126 Duke Energy customers were without power. No information was immediately available on Lumberton and Red Springs utility customers, but on Facebook it was a mixed bag, with some city residents saying they had powers, and others without.
The numbers will only grow as the “life-threatening” storm continues westward, and power companies have warned it could be days to weeks until some outages are repaired.
The statement from Jones predicted about 24 inches of rain that will cause “major flooding,” but was a sunnier forecast than the one provided by Sen. Danny Britt, who said the state Emergency Management director had warned of the possibilty of 30 to 40 inches of rain.
Britt, in a Facebook post, said he feared flooding to match what happened during Matthew and advised residents who were flooded out in the October 2016 storm to seek shelter.
The county has five shelters that are being operated by the American Red Cross that are gradually filling up. About 1,000 people were in them this morning, and Lumberton High is at capacity. However, anyone going to that shelter can get transported to one of the other four, which are at South Robeson High, St. Pauls High and Purnell Swett High schools, as well Fairmont Middle School.
A curfew is in effect for most of the county and the major towns from 8 p.m. to sunrise each day until further notice.