Anita Harrell says the challenge of gathering up and transporting eight pets means she’ll be ignoring the mandatory evacuation order issued to the residents of Wilmington, N.C., as powerful Hurricane Florence threatens to wreak havoc on the state.
“We have four dogs and four cats. And you know, they’re just as much as part of my family as anything,” Harrell told CBC News in a phone interview. “So we’ve just decided to secure the house — boarded the windows and boarded up my business — and get everything we need to stay around.”
“I don’t feel like my life is in danger,” she said. “But I felt like my life was in danger, I would definitely leave.”
The U.S. National Hurricane Center is predicting that Florence will blow ashore on Thursday or Friday around the border between North Carolina and South Carolina.
As of Tuesday, more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out. North Carolina’s governor issued what he called a first-of-its-kind mandatory evacuation order for the state’s fragile barrier islands, stretching along the coast, from one end to the other.
But some people, like Harrell, are staying put, hoping to weather out the storm.
“The majority of my neighbours are staying,” she said. “And we’re protecting our homes, we’re protecting our families as best we can.”
Some of her concerns are allayed by the fact that her home, which she shares with her wife and niece, is above sea level and is not located on the beach. Harrell’s fitness business is also located on higher ground, where she said they could flee to if it’s no longer safe in their home.
Ahead of the storm, they’ve boarded up windows, brought in all the outside furniture, and stocked up on supplies, including water, canned goods, plywood and a generator, Harrell said.
Part of the reluctance to leave, she said, is the difficulty of returning once the storm has passed.