Red Cross advises NC coastal residents to remain alert as Hurricane Maria passes

(Photo courtesy of Allen Fairbanks)

WILMINGTON - As Category 1 Hurricane Maria churns through the Atlantic Ocean, the Red Cross is encouraging North Carolina coastal residents to remain alert and prepared for anything.

"For back-to-back weeks, hurricanes in the Atlantic have had us all on our toes. And it's not time to let our guard down yet," Barry Porter, regional CEO of the Red Cross in Eastern NC, said. "We encourage the community to continue to monitor weather reports and stay prepared should Maria affect our North Carolina shoreline."

There are a few safety steps the Red Cross says residents need to be aware of.

The basics

Find a shelter by visiting or by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App. The app puts real time information about the storm and hurricane safety tips and is available by visiting Continue listening to local radio stations, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates. If you live in an area prone to flooding, be prepared to evacuate quickly if necessary. Follow evacuation orders and do not attempt to return until officials say it's safe to do so. Head for higher ground and stay there. Stay away from floodwaters. If you find yourself near a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Turn around, don't drown. If you are driving, don't head to flooded areas. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away in less than two feet of moving water. Keep children out of the water -- always. Be cautious at night when it's harder to see flood danger. Have a plan and supplies for your pets. You can download the free Red Cross Pet First Aid App for tips, a pet-friendly hotel locator and an animal hospital locator.

Through the storm

Stay indoors Don't walk on beaches, riverbanks or in flood waters. Use flashlights in the dark -- not candles. Turn off the power and water mains if instructed to do so by local authorities. Don't forget your pets. Make sure to bring them indoors and maintain direct control of them. Prepare an emergency kit for you and your pets. Thid may include leashes, pet carriers, food and water, bowls, cat litter and pan and photos of you with your pet in case they get lost.

For more information on preparedness, visit