Having decreased from its Category 4 peak, Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm on Friday, Sept. 14. News outlets continue to bring reports of severe flooding and road closures, but there are several areas, including some popular tourist destinations, which have already reopened.
Although both Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina’s Department of Transportation have advised against driving in or through the state other than for evacuation purposes, some areas that have already reopened for visitors include the Outer Banks’ Currituck County and Dare County. Located on the northern Outer Banks, Curritcuck County, which reopened on Sunday, encompasses Carova, Corolla and the Currituck mainland. Dare County includes Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, Manteo, Roanoke Island, Hatteras, Buxton, Avon, Rodanthe, Waves and the Dare County mainland. The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island is among the attractions in the area that have reopened. The Pine Knoll Shores and Fort Fisher locations of the aquarium remain closed although tweets from both locations’ Twitter accounts report that initial assessments of the facilities indicate that they have sustained little to no damage.
The capital city of Raleigh and its surrounding Wake County were largely unaffected by Hurricane Florence. The Raleigh-Durham International Airport is open with on-time arrivals and departures and most of the major roads within the Raleigh area are safe to drive on. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh opened on Monday, Sept. 17 and open hotel accommodations in the area include the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Knightsdale Raleigh and the Hampton Inn & Suites Raleigh.
In addition, Asheville, which is a popular tourist destination, is also reporting little damage from Florence. The Biltmore Estate, famous for being the largest private home in the United States, has reopened in Asheville along with all of the lodging options within the estate. Most sections of the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway remain closed, but nearby Chimney Rock State Park has reopened. Open accommodations in Asheville include Hilton Asheville Biltmore Park, Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Asheville, and Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown. Other popular attractions that have reopened around the state include the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro and Grandfather Mountain in Linville.
Proceeding With Caution
Despite the positive news coming from these areas, much of the state has been hit with severe flooding and conditions remain dangerous. For example, the coastal city of Wilmington attracted headlines this weekend as flooding completely closed all roads into the city. A major road has been opened up offering access to Wilmington, although authorities have not announced which road that is. The road is being used to deliver supplies to the area and conduct rescues. It is unclear if the unnamed road will remain open as Cape Fear River continues to swell. Several major North Carolina roads, including I-40, I-95, U.S. 70, U.S. 17 and U.S. 421 have been impacted by flooding and several roads, trails and facilities in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have closed. Visitors are advised to check the park’s website for additional information.
Visit NC, the state’s official tourism authority, recommends travelers check the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Traveler Information Management System for the most up-to-date information. Visit NC also recommends that travelers use the ReadyNC app for additional information on current conditions. The ReadyNC app provides information such as road conditions, power outages, river and stream flooding, open shelters, evacuations, and evacuation routes. Travelers are also encouraged to contact lodging partners before traveling. The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association has compiled a list of website links and toll-free phone numbers for chain hotels in North Carolina to help those seeking information about hotel openings.
Inland Areas Affected, Too
Flooding has hit inland cities like Durham due to overflowing rivers and rainfall. Even in areas where the rain has finally stopped, Governor Cooper is still warning that dangerously high water will most likely remain for several days. With entire communities submerged, he is advising that people stay away from the hardest-hit areas.