Preparing for Hanna

Published 8:56 pm Friday, September 5, 2008

By Staff
Governments, agencies take actions to protect, serve region’s residents
WDN Staff
Local governments and disaster-response organizations continue to prepare today for the effects of Tropical Storm Hanna as it churns toward the Carolinas’ coast.
Beaufort County is expected to be under a state of emergency beginning at noon today, said County Manager Paul Spruill on Thursday.
The state of emergency will include a limit on in-county travel and authorization to open a shelter at Northside High School at 6 p.m. today, Spruill said.
The travel ban could be extended to 10 a.m. Saturday, the document continues, and travel on Stewart Parkway is prohibited during the storm.
During the period that travel is restricted, “there shall be no sale, consumption, transportation, or possession of alcoholic beverages,” except for possession and consumption at home, the document states.
There is a $100 fine for violating the regulations, according to the proclamation.
On Thursday, Hyde County officials stopped short of issuing a state of emergency or an evacuation order.
The county expects storm surges of 2 to 4 feet, according to a statement from the county.
There is a possibility ferry service in the county could be interrupted if the weather gets bad enough, according to the county’s statement.
Representatives from disaster-response agencies and local governments met Thursday afternoon at Beaufort County’s emergency operations center to put the finishing touches on the county’s storm-response plan.
People heading for the shelter at Northside should make some preparations, Spruill said.
Because of flooding concerns, “there is a bigger need around the Belhaven area” for a shelter, said John Pack, Beaufort County’s emergency-management coordinator.
Pack does not expect the county to open P.S. Jones Middle School and Southside High School as shelters unless there is overflow of evacuees at Northside.
Pack sent in a request to the state’s emergency-management division for four Highway Patrol officers to be stationed at Northside during the duration of the storm. He expects to learn today if his request will be granted. Pack wants two Highway Patrol officers on duty at the shelter at a time, each pair working 12-hour shifts.
Because emotions can run high at shelters, Pack said, it is pertinent to have security.
Assisting at Northside will be the Greater Pamlico Area Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Beaufort County Department of Social Services.
Sandra Fenn, a disaster-relief volunteer and former executive director of the chapter, said the Red Cross will have the necessary manpower to provide assistance at Northside.
The chapter will provide cots and blankets for shelter habitants and “serve as many people as we have to,” Fenn said..
The operation is considered “shelter-only” at this point, which means the Red Cross will not provide money to shelter residents.
DSS employees will serve as the shelter’s management team, which will be assisted by employees with the Beaufort County Health Department.
DSS usually provides six people to manage a shelter, according to DSS Director James Harriett. There will be stand-by crews to open Southside and P.S. Jones as needed, he said.
Washington’s Salvation Army will be providing on-site assistance to anyone in flood areas who chooses not to evacuate. The organization’s new mobile canteen is ready to provide hot meals to storm victims and disaster-response personnel.
Maj. Dan Whittaker with the local Salvation Army unit said the regional Salvation Army headquarters in Charlotte has kept all of its canteens “in home use” instead of sending them to disaster locations in Louisiana and Texas.
The mobile canteens are built to transport three volunteer workers. Each contains a built-in generator that provides power to a freezer and refrigerator. A canteen is stocked with a three-day supply of food and other related items, Whittaker said.
The Salvation Army is ready to provide assistance in the aftermath of the storm.
Pack said the county will be coordinating with its animal-control officials to provide shelter pets to affected by the storm.
Evacuees may drop their pets off at the county’s animal shelter, Pack said, but officials ask that the animals brought to the shelter in their own crates if possible. The county’s animal shelter is located at 3931 U.S. Highway 264 East.