Florida residents flock to NC ahead of Hurricane Ian

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MORRISVILLE, N.C. — Hurricane Ian is not expected to impact North Carolina until at least Friday, but Duke Energy is already preparing for the storm, and some Floridians are headed to the Triangle.

Ian is expected to impact three of the six states Duke Energy serves. Jeff Brooks, a Duke Energy spokesperson, told WRAL News crews will stay local until they are positive they are not needed before deploying elsewhere to help.

“We have to make sure we’re protecting our service area here,” Brooks said. “We would not release crews from the Carolinas until we were certain that our areas are not going to be impacted. Our first priority is always the local community.”

Brooks said it’s not unusual for multiple states to be impacted at once.

“It’s like moving an Army, really,” Brooks said. “And it’s something we’ve had a lot of experience with, unfortunately.”

Crews from Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio are also available to assist workers in the Carolinas and Florida.

Laura Albright, a St. Pete Beach resident, was at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Monday. Albright, who lives right on the beach, said she evacuated to N.C. to stay with her friend in Wake Forest.

Another woman, Ann Firestine, was traveling home to Durham after picking her mom up from an assisted living facility in Florida and bringing her to the Triangle to ride out the storm.

“She lives right on the bay,” Firestine said. “They were getting ready to evacuate, and they were going to have to go in about two hours. I grabbed the first flight I could get.”

Florida is expected to feel impacts from Ian, including heavy rain, devastating storm surge and damaging winds, Tuesday through Friday, as the storm sits off the southwestern coast of the state.

N.C. could see impacts of up to 4 inches of heavy rain and isolated tornadoes Friday and throughout the weekend.

Albright expects to see a mandatory evacuation for her area.

“Thanks to my friends who are letting me come stay with them, I can be relaxed,” she said. “This was my choice.”

When asked if she was worried about her home, Albright responded, “I can’t do anything about it, so I’m not going to worry about it now that I’m in safety.”

Leslie Gagliano was at RDU to pick up Albright. The two met years ago when they both lived in New York.

“She texted me and I was super happy to have her,” Gagliano said. “I think it’ll just be something where we get a lot of rain, maybe some winds. I don’t think it’ll be anything we can’t handle here [in N.C.].”

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