Members of the Alger family came to the Twin Counties earlier this week from New Bern, North Carolina, for a family funeral Thursday — the same day their home on the riverfront of the Neuse River was hit by Hurricane Florence.
Florence is classified as a Category 2 storm by the National Weather Service and is expected to have sustained winds of up to 105 mph and a storm surge that could reach 13 feet.
The storm began its brutish slow-motion collision with the Carolina coasts Thursday, with beach towns cowering under the first bands of lashing rain. Millions of people have left the area after mandatory evacuations were ordered for most coastal counties of South Carolina and parts of North Carolina.
The Alger family traveled to Hudson for the funeral of Greg James Alger, of New Bern. The family was originally from Hudson and Greg was buried Thursday in Cedar Park Cemetery in the city.
“We were going to leave Friday, but we won’t be able to get back into the state,” Lenny Alger said. “We are right on the water in an inlet of the river.”
The family moved to North Carolina from Hudson 18 years ago and returned for what was supposed to be a short-term trip. The Algers may stay in the Twin Counties through Sunday.
They are staying at the Best Western in Coxsackie, Lenny said.
“I am hoping we have a home to go home to,” said Cassandra Alger, Lenny’s niece. Cassandra serves in the U.S. Air Force and is stationed in Idaho.
“I have a lot of friends who stayed in New Bern because they have no place to go. They can’t move some people.”
Officials were closing lanes traveling south of Interstate Route 95 and turning them into northbound lanes, Lenny and Cassandra said, adding they saw people evacuating as they traveled north for the funeral.
As the hurricane hit the coast at about 2 p.m. Thursday, officials warned of its potential to deliver catastrophic, life-threatening damage, including drenching some areas with up to 40 inches of rain. The storm was forecasted to crawl places as far inland as Charlotte — about 150 miles from the coast — that could receive more than 10 inches of rain.
The hurricane slowed and was downgraded to a Category 2 storm Thursday, but Lenny said that does not make things better.
“It means there is going to be a lot of rain,” Lenny said. “And everything is going to be really wet and then the winds could cause branches and poles to fall on houses.”
Lynn Demarco, of Albany, has a niece who is a police officer down in Charleston area — 20 minutes inland from the South Carolina coast.
“I talked to her mother earlier today,” Demarco said. “She is worried about her house, but she has to help people. I feel sorry for people who are living along the coast.”
Charles Swain, of Catskill, plans to pray for the people living on the coast, he said.
“It’s a sad thing, definitely,” Swain said. “Only thing you can do is say a prayer for them. Some people can’t leave. You feel bad.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday he is deploying 50 airmen from the 106th Rescue Wing of the New York Air National Guard to Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach to assist in the hurricane response. The team traveled Wednesday afternoon to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
The Columbia-Greene Humane Society is doing its part to help with hurricane relief. The humane society will take in five to 10 dogs from a South Carolina animal shelter, Columbia-Greene Humane Society President and CEO Ron Perez said Thursday.
“We make sure we have ample space for the dogs,” Perez said. “We do not know what condition the dogs will be in, so we keep veterinarians on standby. We will give the dogs health and wellness tests, vaccines and get them ready for adoption as soon as possible.”
The American Red Cross deployed volunteers to help during the hurricane, including three people from Ulster and Dutchess counties. No volunteers from Columbia and Greene counties were deployed as of Thursday, said Kimmy Venter, the director of communications for American Red Cross Eastern New York.
The Red Cross is sending volunteers with extensive training and experience working in the local area to help with relief efforts during Hurricane Florence, Venter said.
More than 1,500 Red Cross disaster workers are involved in Hurricane Florence relief efforts. The Red Cross moved additional disaster workers, vehicles, equipment and relief supplies into key areas Wednesday. Some 80 emergency response vehicles and more than 120 trailers of equipment and relief supplies were deployed.
“We don’t know what is going to happen going forward and I anticipate that we will deploy more volunteers,” Venter said. “We encourage people who want to help to provide a financial donation or donate blood.”
The New York Times contributed to this report.