Please prepare now!

It was good to see Sampsonians and their neighbors in Duplin hauling boats in from the lake and the coast Sunday, a sign that some residents are already preparing for the worst and praying for the best as Hurricane Florence barrels toward the East Coast.

We pray the remainder of residents in our two counties (and across North Carolina) will follow suit, getting ready now for what might be a sizable blow should Florence continue on its current course.

That course is in no way certain yet, and we aren’t by any means sounding the panic alarm. Instead, we are urging preparedness over procrastination. A cool, steady determination to have the things one most needs during a storm:bottled water, batteries, canned foods, filled prescriptions, full tanks of gas, cash, charged-up cell phones and, most especially a plan for safe shelter.

It’s a mantra we’ve been hearing since Friday when forecaster began to predict Florence’s track, one that, at present, seems to have its sights set on the North Carolina coast. The repetitiveness of the message should indicate the seriousness of the call. Being prepared will make riding out a storm the likes of Florence as easy as such things can be.

The National Weather Center is expecting Florence to increase in forward speed over the next couple of days.Its maximum sustained winds are at 105 mph (165 kmh). Drawing energy from the warm water, the now Category 2 storm could be a fearsome Category 4 with winds of 130 mph (209 kph) or more by Tuesday. Florence is expected to remain an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday.

And right behind it sits Hurricane Isaac, which is holding steady in strength over the Atlantic.

Our emergency management teams are already meeting, making plans that will include opening shelters, managing the possibility of downed trees and power lines and handling calls that inevitably will come if or when the storm hits our area.

The Sampson Independent will be live-streaming updates from the state Emergency Operations Center during each of its broadcast news conferences at, along with local information pertinent to our area. You will also be able to keep up with storm preparations, where you can find bread and water and updates on Florence’s location by watching both our Facebook page and our website. Our daily paper will also provide you the latest information, all in an effort to help you prepare.

Right now we do not know where Florence will make land, but one thing we do know is that getting ready today is important.

Please don’t put off until later in the week the things that you can get done today. It is important for you, your family and your community.