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Marine industry prepares for Hurricane Florence

With most of its buildings at sea level, Iconic Marine Group could experience flooding from Hurricane Florence.

With most of its buildings at sea level, Iconic Marine Group could experience flooding from Hurricane Florence.

With Hurricane Florence now a category 4 storm and, at the minimum, maintaining strength, it is projected to make landfall in the Carolinas sometime Thursday. The Outer Banks area of North Carolina is under evacuation and boat manufacturers and marinas in the area were busy yesterday securing equipment and boats and moving as much as possible indoors.

“We have a hurricane protocol for employees and the company. We are battening down the hatches here,” Joe Curran, Chief Operations Officer at Iconic Marine Group, told TradeOnlyToday. Iconic builds Fountains, Donzis and Bajas at the former Fountain Powerboats factory in Washington, N.C.

The Iconic facility is on the Pamlico River and many of the on-site buildings are at river level. “Our biggest threat is flooding and we’re trying to get as much inside above potential water levels,” Curran said. Completed boats are being put on trailers and moved to higher ground, but boats that are currently on the line can’t be moved, so the manufacturer has to hope that the potential rainfall totals don’t materialize.

With the predicted winds blowing straight in from the East and the potential rainfall and storm surge, flooding could be a very real problem during Florence. The river needs to flow out to the Atlantic Ocean to dissipate rising waters but strong winds could prevent that.

Additionally, the U.S. Navy ordered nearly 30 ships stationed at Hampton Roads to evacuate and head to Naval Station Norfolk.

Anchorage Inn & Marina is on Ocracoke Island in North Carolina’s Outer Banks region, which was evacuated yesterday afternoon.

Anchorage marina is on the sound side of the island, but William Gilbert, its manager, said that because the island is so thin, “there’s not a whole lot you can do. The most you can do is get the boats out.”

The area is home to many charter fishing boats. Gilbert said those will go to dry dock for haul out and will be put in a warehouse to ride out the storm. The 24 year-old has lived in Ocracoke since as a child and said that when it comes to hurricanes: “Expect the unexpected. You can’t be too careful. There’s always something that’s going to mess up.”

With the storm still two days away, NOAA’s National Hurricane Center has Florence about 410 miles south of Bermuda and 975 miles East Southeast of Cape Fear, N.C. Maximum sustained winds are 140 mph and the storm is moving west northwest at 15 mph. A hurricane watch has been issued from Ediato Beach, S.C., north to the North Carolina-Virginia border, including the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds. A storm surge is also in effect for these areas.

Marinas in the Charleston, S.C., area were getting calls from customers asking them to pull their boats from dry stacks so they could pick them up with a trailer to tow them to safety. Others were asking for their boats to be moved from higher positions in the racks to lower ones.

“They know we’re doing as much as we can to protect their boats,” said Franklin Price, a dockhand at Ripley Light Marina in Charleston.

BAR Marine is about 27 miles south of Charleston in Jacksonboro. BAR president Ben Robertson said his facility is about 22 miles inland on a river, so the biggest threat to his company is flooding and trees and power lines coming down, depending on wind strength.

“We’re picking up everything and trying to get as much as possible secured,” said Robertson. “We’re expecting some winds and probably a lot of rain.”

BAR Marine’s eight-person crew on Monday was busy basically packing as many boats as it could in buildings. Boats that have to remain outside are secured as close to each other as possible, using their combined weight to create a wind break.

Forecasters are still keeping an eye on Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac, both of which are in the Atlantic are not considered threats to the U.S., but Isaac could impact Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica late Thursday and Friday.

In the Pacific, on the heels of Hurricane Lane that hit Hawaii in late August, Tropical Depression Paul is not expected to be much of a threat. In an advisory issued at 2 a.m. PST this morning, the NHC called Paul “poorly organized” and expect it to present little threat later this week.

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