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Hurricane Florence Updates – Tues. Sept. 11

Updated Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 12:30 p.m.

WIZS will be bringing you updates on Hurricane Florence as new information is received. Please check the WIZS websiteFacebook page and listen live to WIZS 1450 AM and 100.1 FM for updates throughout the week. The latest briefing from the National Weather Service can be found any time by clicking here.

Information is provided courtesy Brian K. Short, director of Henderson-Vance County Emergency Operations.

(Click here for WIZS audio of this Story.)

With Hurricane Florence now only a few days away from us, our preparation efforts are now in full swing. As you can see from the latest weather briefing from the National Weather Service, this is a powerful storm that is expected to bring tremendous rainfall and damaging winds to our area of NC.

Widespread power outages are likely due to falling trees and wind. There is tremendous potential for widespread flooding and flash flooding as well. At this time, we are anticipating the tropical storm force winds to reach us late Thursday evening, but that could certainly change as the system gets closer to us.

We will be having a responder briefing which will include City and County government personnel on the apparatus floor of Henderson Fire Department Station 1 located at 211 Dabney Drive in Henderson. The briefing will begin at 3 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday). Representatives from all responder agencies are strongly encouraged to attend.

Additionally, we are planning on recommending that a local Proclamation of a State of Emergency be put in place at the conclusion of tomorrows responder briefing. It will remain in place throughout the storm.

At this time we are planning to open a single, centrally located shelter at Eaton Jonson’s Middle School, located at 500 N. Beckford Drive in Henderson. We may adjust the opening time slightly as the storm gets closer to us but for now, we will open the shelter at 9 a.m. on Thursday. Below is a list of shelter items that every shelter occupant MUST bring with them to the shelter. We will do limited feeding at the shelter but will not be supplying personal items or any other items that occupants might have forgotten, so please refer to the list and read it carefully.

We are particularly concerned for residents who live in mobile/manufactured homes. We are expected to have tropical storm force winds in our area, which can cause significant damage, especially to smaller structures. We are therefore encouraging those residents who live in mobile homes to report to the shelter.

If you are a resident that does not have a way to the shelter, then please reach out to our office and we will do our best to arrange it with KARTS. They are willing to provide limited transportation services if anyone absolutely does not have another way to get there. We are encouraging residents who do not have transportation of their own to reach out to family members and neighbors first. This will ensure that they are available to those who absolutely do not have any other means of travel. If you have a need to transport a pet using KARTS, they will not transport it unless it is secured in an animal crate.

For those who have pets they wish to bring to the shelter, they must bring their pets to the Vance County Animal Shelter located on Brodie Road in Henderson. You will need to leave your pet there and then report to the general population shelter. You will be reunited with your pet after the storm. If you have a crate for your pet you must bring it with you to the shelter.

We will also be announcing our shelter openings utilizing our CODE RED community alert system, radio, print and social media, so please follow us on Facebook.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to take the time to prepare before the storm’s arrival. There is still time, so please use the attached as a guide. Remember, if this is a significant impact across the state (and it is believed that will be the case,) it could take days for any significant help to reach us. Therefore we strongly encourage everyone to be 72 hours self- sufficient.

Further updates will be forwarded along as they are received.

Area Farmers Advised to Make Storm Preps for Hurricane Florence

-Information courtesy Paul McKenzie, Agricultural Extension Agent, Vance/Warren Counties, NC Cooperative Extension

The local office of NC Cooperative Extension is a great source of storm preparation information for local farmers. A few quick tips are compiled below, but be sure to call or visit one of the web links below for complete details.

  • Consider moving beehives temporarily if there is a risk they could topple over or be damaged by falling trees or limbs or by flooding. Make sure the hive lid is secured to the hive, possibly with ratchet straps or duct tape.

  • Produce growers should harvest as much as possible before the storm. Crops like tomatoes and melons may split after excessive rains, and leafy greens may suffer wind damage.

  • Make sure pesticides are stored securely, where they are safe from flooding and water damage.

  • Prepare your greenhouse for high winds. There is a strong probability that we will have tropical storm force winds in this area. At a minimum, keep it closed up and inflated, and you may want to remove the plastic completely.
  • If you have to use a backup generator to keep your farm in operation, be certain it is located in a well-ventilated area. Never use one in a basement or attached garage or other enclosed area.

  • Scout your farm carefully for equipment and materials that could become airborne during tropical storm force winds. Put them in a secure location.

  • Be careful not to overload extension cords that are running from a backup generator. An overloaded extension cord can start a fire.

  • If evacuation seems like a possibility, make sure you have a plan for your livestock.

As mentioned above, lots more details can be found at http://ncdisaster.ces.ncsu.edu or http://ncagr.gov/disaster, or by calling NC Cooperative Extension at 252-438-8188 (Vance) or 252-257-3640 (Warren).

Granville Co. Holds Emergency Briefing; Northern Granville Middle to Open as Shelter

-Press Release, County of Granville

The Granville County Emergency Management team held an emergency briefing on Tuesday morning in anticipation of Hurricane Florence.  Assembled to hear an update from Director Doug Logan and to share information and resources were representatives of local fire departments, law enforcement, EMS and animal control, as well as city and town managers, county staff and elected officials.

“We all have one goal,” Logan remarked, “and that’s to keep our residents safe.”

Hurricane Florence, a category 4 storm as of Tuesday, has been tracked for the past several days and is expected to make landfall sometime Thursday night or Friday morning near the Wilmington area before moving inland. It is predicted that the Granville County area will be pounded with 10 to 12 inches of rain as a result. Widespread power outages are also anticipated.

Doug Logan updates emergency responders and community leaders during Tuesday morning’s county briefing. (Photo Granville County)

In a videotaped announcement shared on social media on Monday afternoon, Logan – flanked by members of local law enforcement – stressed the severity and strength of this storm, urging all Granville County residents to begin making preparations and an emergency plan. That urging was repeated at Tuesday’s briefing as a preliminary outline was shared with emergency responders and community leaders, along with a request for everyone to “be on the same page.”

“Our message to residents is, if you feel safe at home, then, by all means, please stay there and make preparations now,” Logan stated. “If you don’t feel safe at home, seek shelter with another family member or friend first. If you can afford it, hotels are also available.  If none of those options work for you and your situation, then make plans to stay in an American Red Cross Shelter during this storm.”

Because of its number of interior hallways and minimum amount of windows, Northern Granville Middle School in Oxford has been designated as an emergency shelter for Granville County residents and will open on Thursday morning at 10 a.m. Anyone choosing to stay in the shelter is requested to bring blankets, sleeping bags, flashlights and any essentials that will be needed.  Cots will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.

“Don’t expect anything but a roof over your head,” Logan explained. “And please bring anything that you and your family members may need for several days.”

Logan also reminds residents that it takes time to mobilize emergency efforts after the storm has struck and to make plans to be “on their own” for about 72 hours. “Preparation and a little common sense will go a long way,” he said Tuesday.

A reminder was also offered to call 911 only in the case of an emergency.

“Please don’t call 911 unless you need immediate emergency assistance,” Logan said. “If you power goes out, for example, 911 is not the number to call. Please remember that we need to use our resources in the most practical ways we can.”

In case of power outages, residents should call Duke Energy, Wake Electric or Piedmont Electric, depending on where electrical services for homes and businesses come from. For Duke Energy customers, that number is 1-800-POWER ON. Wake Electric customers should call 1-800-743-3155 and those using Piedmont Electric should call 1-800-449-2667 or 1-800-222-3107 to report an outage.

Granville County Public School administrators also attended Tuesday morning’s briefing and have made plans to close schools on Thursday and Friday. All school functions and activities are scheduled as usual until Wednesday at 5 p.m. Stan Winborne, Public Information Officer and Executive Director of Operations, encourages all GCPS families to stay informed through the school system’s automated calling service as to when schools will re-open after the storm hits and any possible damage is assessed.

In the meantime, Logan reminds all residents to be smart, be safe and to stay informed through radio alerts and through official social media sites, and to share accurate information. Updates are continually posted on the United Way’s ‘Connect Granville’ Facebook page, as well as Granville County Government online sites. The CodeRED alert system will also be utilized for emergency notifications.

“Priorities should be for the safety of your family, your neighbors and your pets,” Logan said. “We will work together to do everything we can and will continue to do so through this process.”

Duke Energy in Need of 5,000 Hotel Rooms for Power Crews

-Information courtesy Tanya Evans, District Manager, Duke Energy

Duke Energy is looking for approximately 5,000 hotel rooms to house power restoration crews coming to the region to assist with storm restoration. There is a significant shortage of hotel rooms due to coastal evacuations. We anticipate many festivals and local events around the state will be canceled due to the weather.

My request is that you accelerate your decision to postpone or cancel these events to free up hotel rooms for power restoration crews. We are hoping that decisions will be made as soon as possible so we can begin deploying crews Thursday night near areas of expected significant damage. Thank you for your assistance.

-Tanya Evans

ReadyNC App to Include Shelter Information If/When Opened

-Information courtesy Kristen King, Clerk to the Board, Franklin County

ReadyNC.org has information about planning and preparing for emergencies plus specifics on the types of disasters and what to do during recovery. The app will also include shelter information if/when they are opened.

To locate the app, search ReadyNC or visit https://readync.org/EN/index.html.

Duke Energy Provides Tips for Surviving Days, Possibly Weeks, Without Power

-Information courtesy Tanya Evans, District Manager, Duke Energy

Based on NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft observations, Hurricane Florence is now a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. Further intensification will occur over the next 24-36 hours and the forecast calls for Florence to remain a category 4 hurricane until landfall. We anticipate significant widespread outages from a storm of this magnitude based on current projected tracks. Historical data and our company experience show that complete restoration from a major hurricane could take multiple days to several weeks depending on the extent of the actual damage, resources available and conditions following the storm such as flooding.

Speaking of resources, Duke Energy has a detailed storm response plan, which is based on information from our meteorologist, and power restoration crews are now preparing to travel. We are also procuring materials and supplies and staffing plans are underway. Additionally, each power plant has a storm prep checklist that helps ensure we take the appropriate protective actions. At our coal ash plants, we have already been taking steps to prepare our ash basin and cooling pond sites for Hurricane Florence.

As we review our plan and safety protocols, it’s important to note that our crews cannot restore power in bucket trucks during high winds. Heavy rains could lead to flooding which further impacts damage assessment and restoration. Duke Energy is encouraging customers to be prepared for multi-day outages as Hurricane Florence rapidly intensifies and pushes towards the North Carolina coast.

Nursing homes, assisted living facilities and long-term care businesses should be prepared with their own, individual facility emergency plans and to take the necessary actions to ensure the safety of their patients in the event that they are without power. Again, if the forecast holds true, this will likely be a multi-day – possibly multi-week – restoration effort, and we will not be able to include them in a priority restoration plan.

We have several options for our customers to stay informed and report an outage:

*         Access outage maps online at www.duke-energy.com/outages

*         Customers can text OUT to 58801 to report an outage from their mobile phone. Be sure to use the mobile phone associated with your account.

*         Calling the automated outage-reporting system at 800-769-3766 for Duke Energy Carolinas customers and 800-419-6356 for Duke Energy Progress customers.

*         For storm or power restoration updates, follow Duke Energy on Twitter (@DukeEnergy) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/duke.energy).