Sandy spares county

Published 2:51 pm Monday, October 29, 2012

Street signs warn drivers of potential flooding problems in Pamlico Plantation. (WDN Photo/Ashley Vansant)


Aside from scattered, minor power outages and minor flooding, Beaufort County’s brush with Hurricane Sandy was rather uneventful, according to John Pack, the county’s emergency-management director.

“So far, so good. It’s been amazing,” Pack said Monday when asked how the county fared as Sandy passed of the North Carolina coast during the weekend. “We really came through this thing much better than I would have expected.”

Pack singled out power providers for praise.

“I just give kudos to the electric companies for the work they did and the continuing preventive maintenance of trimming trees and all that,” Pack said. “Our power grid has held up so much better than some of the other counties, and when I say that, some of the more inward counties that didn’t have the impacts of the tornadoes and Hurricane Irene (like we did last year). They’ve had more power outages than we had (this time). I can only attribute it to what the power companies have done. … Sometimes we forget that when we pay our power bills, some of that is to make sure we keep our power.”

Pack said tree trimming along power transmission and distribution lines was a factor in power outages being relatively few and far between during the weekend.

“This has been sustained tropical-force winds for virtually 48 hours, and we’ve only had a handful of minor power outages? That’s amazing,” he said.

As for flooding, Pack said, “When I say minor, I mean very minor. We’ve had some storm surge of about 4 foot down in Aurora. It didn’t hit any houses, that we’ve been told about.”

Storm surge reached the bottom of some bridges in Aurora, but never flowed over them, Pack said.

“We took great lengths with the Aurora fire department going out several times to try to help people understand this is not going to be like Irene and give them an update what was happening in the way of storm surge. The Aurora fire department was very proactive, and they deserve a lot of credit for that,” Pack said. “We got a lot of calls from people in that area who were very nervous.”

Washington Electric Utilities experienced no outages during the storm, said WEU Director Keith Hardt on Monday afternoon.


Tideland Electric Membership Corp., which provides power to several eastern North Carolina counties, including parts of Beaufort County and Hyde County, including Ocracoke, came through the storm “remarkably well,” said Heidi Smith, Tideland spokeswoman, on Monday.

Tideland experienced mostly scattered outages affecting no more than 300 customers in any one outage, Smith said. One major circuit on Ocracoke was without power during part of Sunday. Two power poles along N.C. Highway 12 will need some repair work.

“The majority of the outages have been between Engelhard, Ocracoke and Mann’s Harbor, sort of that Outer Banks triangle there,” Smith said.

N.C. 12 was closed from Rodanthe to the Oregon Inlet bridge because of flooding and overwash, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation. On Ocracoke, N.C. 12 was flooded with up to 24 inches of water.

Beaufort County’s public schools were closed for students and 10-month staff Monday. They were expected to open on normal schedules today, said Sarah Hodges, spokeswoman for Beaufort County Schools. Students will be released early today. Those early release times had been previously scheduled, Hodges said.



About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

email author More by Mike