In anticipation of a severe winter storm coupled with strong winds from Hurricane Sandy in the North Carolina mountains, Gov. Bev Perdue on Tuesday declared a State of Emergency for 24 western counties including here in Wilkes. Gov. Perdue said, “I urge North Carolinians in the impacted areas to take the necessary precautions to stay safe…” The National Park Service closed five sections of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway. Counties included in the declaration were: Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey. Perdue declared the state of emergency which allows utility and other large vehicles to enter the state and relieve impacted areas from strong winds and possible snow. It also gives Department of Public Safety Secretary Reuben Young the authority to deploy the State Emergency Response Team to take necessary action to ensure the safety and protection of people in North Carolina. In addition, the declaration prohibits price gouging in the affected areas.