Hundreds of residents set up in Bladen County shelters

ELIZABETHTOWN — More than 200 people have already checked into shelters in Bladen County, deciding to not take the chance of riding out the storm in their homes.

Bladen County is operating four shelters, and as of Thursday evening, according to Bladen County Emergency Services Director Bradley Kinlaw, at least 231 people have checked in.

But even more are interested.

“We’ve had people calling asking if we take reservations,” Kinlaw remarked. “No.”

The director stated that one day prior to the expected landfall of the Category 3 storm, he has advice for people heading to shelters.

“Folks need to stop and look at the press release with items they need to bring,” he remarked. “With the number of people we’ll have in the shelters, there’s no way we can provide everything they’ll need.”

The list to which Kinlaw referred may be found here.

Florence was downgraded Wednesday afternoon from a Category 4 storm to a Category 3 as the eyewall fell apart. Experts say the eyewall is expected to reform, the storm to strengthen again to a Category 3, then downgrade again to a Category 3 before making landfall around Wilmington.

It is expected to slow down significantly and dump rain on the region for at least 24 hours, according to the National Weather Service.