Wednesday, 12 September 2018 14:39

City prepared for Florence

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Doughtie addresses officials and media as Scherer looks on. Doughtie addresses officials and media as Scherer looks on. rrspin.com

The city has already taken steps in the wake of Hurricane Florence, Roanoke Rapids City Manager Joseph Scherer said at a press briefing today.

One of those steps is the lowering of the water level at Rochelle Pond to increase the capacity for the upcoming storm.

Scherer said the city has made substantial improvements to its system since the flood of 2012, but cautioned the system is still not designed to accept a large amount of water in a short amount of time.

Scherer said the police department will have additional officers on duty.

There will be no changes in refuse collection at this time, Scherer said. “Public works asks that residents refrain from putting additional refuse out for collection. Loose items have the potential to become airborne debris or cause impediments to stormwater drainage.”

He said all parks and recreation programs have been canceled through a state of emergency declared today. That proclamation includes a curfew and prohibition of alcohol sales beginning Thursday night — see related story at this link.

Scherer said there is the possibility Florence could stall over the Carolinas, increasing the amount of rain the region could experience.

Preparation

“As the city of Roanoke Rapids prepares for the arrival of Hurricane Florence, leaders are asking for residents to get themselves ready for extreme weather conditions. Residents are asked to get their own supplies in order — water, enough for one gallon per person per day, batteries, non-perishable food, prescription medicine, a first aid kit.”

The city manager also discussed generator safety — ensuring the cord is free of tears and that extension cords are outdoor rated. “Prevent overloading and generator failure by reading instructions and appliance rating and loads.”

Never, he said, use a generator, grill or burning device inside a home, basement or partially enclosed area.

Residents are encouraged to check media such as Channel 193 which is the city’s information channel on Spectrum, subscribe to the Nixle Alert System or follow the city’s website, social media for city departments as well as Halifax County E-911 Central Communications.

Overall emergency preparedness information is available at ReadyNC. The 2-1-1 number is part of the state’s emergency response operations and provides real time information on shelters, evacuation routes, food, meal, water and recovery sites.

Scherer noted once winds sustain 45 miles per hour ambulances and other large emergency response vehicles will not operate.

“Demand at retail sites is extremely high and shortages may exist,” Scherer said. “Please remain patient and understand that suppliers are doing all they can to get as much gas and fuel as possible to serve the community and customers.”

Scams

Scherer encouraged residents to watch out for and report suspicious activity or potential fraud from scam artists, identity thieves “and other criminals who may try to prey on residents due to storm damage.”

If concerned, he said, call the city, or FEMA’s Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721.

“Be mindful of fraudulent building and tree contractors, bogus pleas for post-disaster donations, fake offers of state or federal aid, phony housing inspections.”

Roads

Scherer said residents should make every effort to stay off roads this weekend. “Those who must travel are advised to stay alert for standing water and the potential that some streets will be blocked if flooding occurs.”

Following these tips if flooding is encountered:

Never attempt to drive through water covering a roadway or bridge. “Keep in mind it does not take a lot of water to incapacitate a vehicle and there may not be a road under the water.”

Watch for flooding and bridges, dips in the road and drainage swales and ditches along roadways.

Watch for debris that can be dangerous.

Stay on high ground as much as possible.

“City officials are continuing to monitor the storm and additional changes will be announced as Hurricane Florence nears landfall,” the city manager said. “Please note that while localized flooding is possible in all areas, some areas of the city are more prone to flooding during heavy rain events.”

Police chief

Chief Chuck Hasty said the shelter at Kirkwood Adams is closing at 5 p.m. today and one which will accommodate pets is being set up at Halifax Community College.

Deputy Halifax County Manager Dia Denton said the county is currently working out the details for the pet-friendly shelter at the college.

“We hope the public will respect the curfew and prohibition of alcohol sales,” Hasty said. “This is something we will review each day as the storm event goes past us.”

Roanoke Rapids Sanitary District

Dan Brown, CEO of the RRSD, said, despite the water-producing measures the agency has in place, “We can’t be lulled into a false sense of security.”

With a diesel pump and small house generator, Brown said the RRSD can deliver 4 million gallons of water a day. During the storm, he said, “We expect demand on the system to be reduced. If we can’t find fuel to run the generator we will have to use conservation methods.”

Roanoke Rapids Graded School District

Superintendent Dain Butler said the school system will be closed Thursday and probably Friday although a firm decision has not been made.

Robbie Clements, the school system’s director of facilities and operations, “has done done a great job” of getting the school system prepared, Butler said.

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