Shelters opening, EOC being activated

Published 8:49 pm Friday, October 7, 2016

Forecasters believe eastern North Carolina will get more rainfall from Hurricane Matthew this weekend than predicted early Friday, posing an increased flooding threat, according to the National Weather Service office in Newport.

“This could be the worst flooding event the area has faced since Hurricane Floyd,” according to a NWS briefing issued Friday.

Floyd’s rainfall in 1999, combined with rainfall left by Hurricane Dennis a few weeks earlier, caused catastrophic flooding, especially in the Pamlico-Tar River Basin. Floyd dropped about 17 inches of rain during its trek over eastern North Carolina.

“The rainfall forecast has further increased to 6 to 12 inches with local amounts up to 15 inches. This is a dangerous and life-threatening flooding event this weekend,” reads the briefing on Matthew. “The combination of abnormally high coastal water levels, additional storm surge and extremely heavy rainfall will produce increased dangerous flood levels, from flash flooding and storm surge combined.”

Locally, anywhere from 4 to 7 inches of rainfall are expected this weekend.

Forecasts earlier this week had Matthew hooking the east once it reached waters off South Carolina. “But if you look at the last four tracks, they’ve all brought (the storm) closer to us,” Pack said.

Beaufort County and counties in the coastal area remain under a tropical-storm warning today. “We’re now in tropical storm-force winds for 13 hours,” Pack said Friday afternoon. “So we have flooding plus storm surge plus wind. The whole shebang.”

The Beaufort County Emergency Operations Center opens at 8 a.m. today, said John Pack, the county’s emergency-management director, Friday afternoon.

In Beaufort County, shelters open at 10 a.m. today at P.S. Jones Middle School in Washington and Southside High School east of Chocowinity, Pack said. Transportation (school buses) to the shelter will be provided, beginning at 8 a.m. today. People wanting to go to the shelter at Southside should meet at the parking lot of the former Piggly Wiggly in Aurora. People wanting to go to the shelter at P.S. Jones Middle School should gather at the parking lot at Food Lion in Belhaven.

Anyone needing special assistance — people in wheelchairs or with physical disabilities — to leave their homes should call the Emergency Management office at 252-946-2046 to arrange transportation, which will be provided by the Beaufort Area Transportation System. “We will coordinate getting them to the shelters,” Pack said.

“If winds reach 45 mph or more, we cannot guarantee that emergency responders will be able to respond if people don’t leave,” Pack said. “If they stay, I can’t guarantee them, for at least the period of the high winds, any assistance. There’s going to be trees coming down — ain’t no doubt in my mind now.”

At noon Friday, the Pamlico River at Washington was 2.87 feet above normal. Flood stage at Washington is 4.5 feet.

Swift-water rescue teams are stationed in Craven, Martin, Onslow, Pitt, Wilson and other counties in eastern North Carolina. The National Guard has high-water vehicles on standby in New Bern and Williamston.


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.

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