Emergency management urging Hyper-Reach registration before storm

Published 8:42 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Days before Hurricane Matthew is expected to impact eastern North Carolina, emergency management officials are preparing for a significant storm. They’re also asking all Beaufort County residents to help them prepare by signing up with the Beaufort County Emergency Management’s Hyper-Reach system.

The system sends out alerts residents need to know about through phone calls or text messages. They range from boil water alerts to tornado warnings, but as Matthew comes barreling up the East Coast, Beaufort County Emergency Management emergency services specialist Lisa Respess Williams is urging residents to sign up with Hyper-Reach so they will know if and when they need to evacuate their homes.

“What people don’t realize is there are some places here that flood quickly. One minute they’ve got 6 inches of water, and the next minute, they’ve got 3 feet of water,” Williams said. “If we know that we need to evacuate, then we’re going to send out that call to that area: ‘water is quickly rising in your neighborhood.’”

Tuesday afternoon, Williams said that during meetings with North Carolina Emergency Management, officials said Matthew could bring as much as a 5-7 foot storm surge, with water 3-5 feet above ground level, and compared the storm to Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Hurricane Irene in 2011. She stressed that those numbers represent a potential outcome — emergency management would have a better idea of what’s to come late Wednesday and Thursday, but that should not deter people from signing up with Hyper-Reach.

“Personally, even if there’s a potential (for flooding), I would want to know that I would get the alert,” Williams said.

On Sept. 13, Emergency Management made a mass call to everyone in the county who has registered with Hyper-Reach. From that test, they were able to determine approximately 16,000 people are registered with the service. With a population of approximately 50,000, Williams said she’d like to see more Beaufort County residents register.

“I still feel like if we could get up to 25,000, we will have captured the majority of residents, but I don’t feel like we have,” Williams said.

Hyper-Reach alerts do not go to everyone registered. Instead, the service alerts only those households within an affected area. For example, only phones registered to households within an area that’s flooding would be notified of the mandatory evacuation.

While Matthew is still several days away, she said residents need to think ahead, as well as focus on storm preparation.

“Anybody who is disabled, who does not drive, they need to plan ahead, plan now for transportation to a shelter or to a family member,” Williams said. “If they don’t drive or they are not mobile, they need to think about that now.”

Williams said emergency management officials also discussed how important it is for county residents to secure propane tanks.

“Please secure and tie down propane tanks that are not buried,” Williams said. “That was a big issue during Irene, and we talked about it quite a bit this morning.”

To sign up for Hyper-Reach, visit https://secure.hyper-reach.com/comsignupw.jsp?id=40487. Cell phone users with no landline are especially encouraged to register.