Officials prepare for Dorian's arrival


Janette Spellman, right, reaches for a jar of peanut butter with her great-grandson Micha Richardson, 2, while shopping for the upcoming storm at Piggly Wiggly.


Staff Writer

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Nash County’s emergency services director said the plan is to open a shelter for Dare County residents evacuating in advance of the coming of Hurricane Dorian.

“We’ve been doing that since the early ’90s,” Brian Brantley told the Telegram on Tuesday of such a temporary regional housing effort.

Brantley said the hope is for the shelter to be open by lunchtime today and that he and his team are trying to determine the location. Brantley said the location probably will be at Nash Community College.

The positive locally, Brantley said, is that this also will provide a shelter for Nash County residents who want to go to one.

A tropical storm watch is in effect.

The National Weather Service forecast for the Rocky Mount area shows the effects of Dorian locally should begin on Thursday and extend into the daytime on Friday.

The forecast for the daytime on Thursday calls for high temperatures in the upper 70s, with quite windy conditions and possibly heavy rainfall in the afternoon.

The forecast for Thursday evening calls for temperatures in the mid-60s, with quite windy conditions and a 90 percent chance of rain.

The forecast for Friday morning calls for mostly cloudy skies and highs in the upper 70s, with quite windy conditions and an 80 percent chance of rain.

Brantley said based on his and his team’s monitoring of the weather reports, there probably will not be any shelters opened to be designated for county residents.

Brantley said he and his team should probably know more by about 12:30 p.m. today.

“We normally do not have a large number of citizens that utilize our shelters, but still, we want ’em to be there if we’re going to have some really dangerous weather,” Brantley said.

Brantley has been Nash County’s emergency services director for 23 years and has a wealth of experience in dealing with hurricanes — Fran in 1996, Dennis and Floyd in 1999, Isabel in 2004, Irene in 2011 and Matthew in 2016.

He said his greatest concern is being able to take care of county residents.

“Fran was bad in ’96, with high wind speeds, trees down, power outages — but we didn’t lose life,” he said.

“Floyd was so frustrating that we had so much water — and we had people that didn’t see the water,” he said. “They’d drive into the water and then we couldn’t get to ’em before they drowned.”

Lisa Tolson, vice president for human resources at Edgecombe-Martin County Electric Membership Corp., said extra crews are coming in from the western part of the state to help the Tarboro-based co-op if needed.

“Hopefully, we don’t have to use ’em, but we’d rather be safe than sorry,” Tolson said.

Tolson said the co-op uses Pike Electric as a contractor and that Pike Electric crews will be arriving today.

As for her feelings about Dorian, she said, “Well, this is not our first rodeo. This one obviously is not as fearful as some have been, but we always prepare for the worst.”

Duke Energy’s media relations team told the Telegram the company is moving an extra 4,000 field personnel from 23 states and Canada into the Carolinas.

The Duke Energy media relations team said this will complement 5,000 Duke Energy lineworkers and tree personnel in the Carolinas.

“We will have a total field workforce of about 9,000 ready to restore outages when the storm moves out of the Carolinas,” Jason Hollifield, Duke Energy’s incident commander for the Carolinas, said in a statement.

“Our customers should know that once we begin work, we will not stop until restoration is complete,” Hollifield said.

Duke Energy Progress customers who experience outages are advised to phone 1-800-419-6356.

The company also is advising customers to create or update an emergency supply kit to save valuable time later.

American Red Cross regional spokeswoman Cally Edwards told the Telegram residents should have anywhere from three to seven days of food, supplies and water ready.

“We have the experience in North Carolina of working with these types of events,” she said. “The Red Cross and our partners are ready — and we will rise to the challenge of what happens with what Dorian brings.

“But this is a time where every person and every organization will look at their own preparedness — and what they’re doing to be prepared for this or any other event that comes this way in North Carolina,” she said. “Whether it is a natural disaster or man-made emergency, preparedness today helps you get through those events tomorrow.”

In educationally related news about the regional impact on Dorian, N.C. Wesleyan College’s main campus in Rocky Mount will close at 3 p.m. today.

The campus will reopen for staff only at noon on Friday.

N.C. Wesleyan’s campuses in Durham and Goldsboro also will follow the same schedule.