Published 9:10 pm Saturday, September 6, 2008

By Staff
to handle
the worst
City workersand volunteersready to respond
Staff Writer
They are ready, willing and more than able, said their boss.
Washington City Manager James C. Smith said extra employees with the city’s the police, fire, electric and public-works departments were ready Friday night to deal with Tropical Storm Hanna.
The city is using its emergency-operations center at Station 2 on 15th Street, he said.
Jimmy Davis, chief of the city’s Fire-Rescue-EMS-Inspections Department, said the center will be a big help.
Davis said the department will be on the alert for tornadoes and flash floods that may be caused by the storm. Department personnel are ready to conduct search-and-rescue operations after such events, and make damage assessments after that, he said.
The biggest threat to the electrical grid during the storm will be from things falling on wires, said Keith Hardt, director of Washington Electric Utilities.
Smith said the city has the normal two crews ready to repair or replace downed or damaged power lines, along with one extra city crew and an extra private crew, which was brought in as a precaution.
Hardt said power might remain on throughout the storm, but residents should be prepared for it to go out.
The city’s water supply should be in good shape as well, said Public Works Director Allen Lewis.
The city’s water tanks will have been filled when the storm hits, he said.
He said public-works employees will have lowered the water level in Jack’s Creek as much as possible before the storm hits.
During the storm, pumps will work to keep the creek low, and floodgates will open once the water level in Jack’s Creek gets high enough, Lewis said.
The Red Cross sent volunteers to the shelter that opened at 6 p.m. at Northside High School, said Thomas Blount, executive director of the Red Cross’ Greater Pamlico Area Chapter.
He isn’t sure how many people will show up at the shelter, he said, but that number isn’t expected to remotely approach the building’s 420-evacuee capacity.
Blount said the Red Cross’ local chapter is accepting financial donations. Checks should be made out to the local chapter, and snack foods such as small bags of chips and bottles of Gatorade are particularly welcome.
Cots and blankets in good condition are also welcome, Blount said.
While there’s a good chance some Red Cross volunteers will be sent to counties south of Washington, the local chapter could use more volunteers to assist others at the shelter, Blount said.