Hurricane Joaquin is projected to makes its way toward the eastern shore of the United States and local officials are bracing for the aftermath.
On Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service announced that Joaquin is a Category 4 hurricane and expected to move into the country within the next couple of days.
Shawn Purvis, assistant city manager for the City of Clinton, said a lot of preparations depend on how crews are going to respond to issues such as fallen trees and downed power lines. The work also includes working with utility companies and making sure areas are secured. Purvis said a lot the equipment and tools such as chainsaws are at the ready.
“Everything is ready to go,” Purvis said. “It’s also the same for our vehicles. We make sure everything is ready to move when needed.”
For city crews, the aftermath of major storms involves cleaning up.
“That’s our biggest response in this case,” Purvis said, referring to the debris. “Our crews are aware of what potentially will be needed.”
So far, emergency crews are standing by, waiting for the consequences. In the meantime, he advises residents to be safe and vigilant of issues such as flooded roads. Purvis stressed that it doesn’t take much to get the tires off the ground in such situations.
“If anyone sees large puddles or large amounts of water on a road (they need) to be cautious and try to go a different way and not try to drive around it, especially if the water is moving,” he said.
As of Thursday evening, projections showed the storm taking a shift away from North Carolina. He also advised residents to stay inside and take shelter.
“That’s the best place and the safest place you’re going to be from falling debris,” Purvis said. “To prepare, get some items that you’re going to need.”
If power outages occur, city and county official will communicate with Duke Energy to update restoration efforts. Purvis said the city will post emergency preparedness links on their social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Although the storm is taking a shift, Sampson County officials also cautioned that “citizens should not let their guard down.” In a notice released by Susan Holder, assistant county manager, it was also stated that the uncertainty of the track warrants vigilance and preparation.
“We will have a better insight on anticipated storm related weather within 12-18 hours; however there are weather conditions preceding the storm, including the possibility of 3-5 inches of rain on already saturated ground, that may cause downed trees and power lines,” Holder stated. “It would not be unexpected to see flood watches issued later.”
While rainfall totals were being adjusted downward somewhat following an emergency briefing Thursday night, the public was still reminded that soggy grounds and gusty winds present the possibility of falling trees and downed power lines. Further reports were expected Friday morning as local officials continue to monitor the situation.
Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of Emergency in all 100 counties in preparation for severe weather, which is predicted to cause flooding through the state. During a news conference at the North Carolina Emergency Operations Center, McCrory said other weather systems besides Hurricane Joaquin are likely to dump flooding rains on the state.
“We’re hoping for the best, but hope is not preparation nor is it a plan,” McCrory said in a news release. “I’ve ordered all state agencies to begin preparation for the severe weather, particularly flooding, that is going hit just about every corner of the state during the next few days.”
The governor is asking residents to update and replenish emergency kits with bottled water, non-perishable food, a weather radio, copies of important documents, flashlights, batteries and any supplies and medications for pets. Information is also available at ReadyNC.org and at the ReadyNC mobile app, which can be downloaded for free.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.