Prisoners, DPS staff in projected Hurricane Florence path being moved to safety

Several hundred prisoners and N.C. Department of Public Safety staff who are in the projected path of Hurricane Florence are being moved to safer facilities.

DPS prison spokesman Jerry Higgins said Tuesday that he couldn’t give specifics about exactly how many offenders and personnel were being moved or from which facilities to protect their safety. He said that most were from smaller facilities that were minimum and medium custody security levels.

The transfers to safer facilities are taking place today and tomorrow, and Higgins said they could release more information once everyone was safe at their next locations.

“There’s been discussion since we first found out about this storm,” he said of the decision to move everyone, adding that it was a big, combined effort between a lot of agencies. “The big thing is just safety — safety for our staff, safety for our inmates and safety for the public as well.”

DPS is also working with the Department of Transportation to prepare the actual facilities in Florence’s path for a disaster. Facility maintenance is monitoring the situation and Higgins said there is extra equipment in place for their use.

“No one is going to go back there until its deemed 100 percent safe to go back,” he said.

As of 2 p.m., Hurricane Florence was about 845 miles east southeast of Cape Fear with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Inland flooding is expected along with life-threatening storm surges on the North and South Carolina coasts.

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