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Area braces for Dorian’s impact

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Lowe’s employee Christina Battle opens up a pallet of gas cans Wednesday at Lowe's Home Improvement.

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Thursday, September 5, 2019

The day before Hurricane Dorian’s arrival, Annette Tanner was in the Rocky Mount Lowe’s Home Improvement, with the shopping cart she was pushing containing a package of bottled drinking water and packages of small battery-powered nightlights.

Tanner, a retiree, has been a local resident for about 50 years and knows hurricanes well.

Fran in 1996 particularly came to Tanner’s mind. As for why, Tanner said, “Because our lights were off for about three weeks or maybe four. And everything was closed. So that’s the reason I’m preparing now.”

She said she was next going to a grocery store to purchase a supply of food to last her about two weeks.

As for her thoughts about Dorian, she said, “I’m just hoping and praying that it will phase out and just go away.”

A tropical storm warning and a flash flood watch both are in effect in the Rocky Mount area from today through Friday afternoon.

The National Weather Service forecast for the area calls for a chance of showers this morning, followed by showers with a slight chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon.

The high temperatures will be in the upper 70s, with northeast winds of 5 to 10 mph, with gusts up to 20 mph, increasing to 15 to 20 mph.

Gusts will be up to 35 mph during the afternoon. The chance of rain is 90 percent.

The forecast for this evening calls for showers, with lows in the upper 60s, with northeast winds of 25 to 35 mph.

Gusts will be up to 50 mph. The chance of rain is nearly 100 percent.

The forecast for Friday calls for showers, with highs in the upper 70s, with north winds of 25 to 35 mph.

Gusts will be up to 50 mph. The chance of rain is 90 percent.

The forecast for Friday evening calls for mostly clear skies, with showers likely and lows in the lower 60s. There will be north winds of 10 to 15 mph.

Gusts will be up to 25 mph. The chance of rain is 70 percent.

At the Rocky Mount Lowe’s, store Manager Ana McCoy said, “Our first concern right now is making sure we can take care of our communities as well as take care of our associates.”

McCoy said the Mooresville-based company has deployed more than 600 truckloads of emergency supplies from Florida up along the Atlantic Coast.

The Rocky Mount store was stocked with batteries, coolers, flashlights, generators, heavy duty vacuum cleaners and portable gasoline containers.

As for when such items began being brought in, McCoy said, “They have been coming in for the last week.

“Lowe’s is extremely quick to deploy emergency supplies,” McCoy said. “We actually have all of the supplies in different distribution centers, staggered around the country.”

As for store hours, McCoy said, “At this point, we’re planning on being open. If anything changes, we’ll have a sign put on the door.”

As for the status of the Walmarts in Rocky Mount, Nashville and Tarboro and the Sam’s Club in Rocky Mount, Walmart’s media relations team told the Telegram people can keep track of the stores by going to https://corporate.walmart.com/dorian.

Local governments are quite busy.

City spokeswoman Tameka Kenan-Norman in a prepared statement told the Telegram the municipal government is set to go live at 8 a.m. today with an operations center and said the center will remain open until further notice.

Kenan-Norman said due to the expected heavy rain, the gates of the Tar River Reservoir dam were partially lowered at about 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Kenan-Norman said hopefully, this will minimize the potential effect of any increased flows along the river to the hydraulic gates.

She said such action will result in a temporary increase in the river flow, which could affect people standing on rocks in the river or displace any tools or portable equipment near the river shore.

To keep track of information, go to www.rockymountnc.gov and click the link at the bottom of the page to monitor river levels, text “riverlevel” to 55469 to receive notification via cell phone or call 252-972-1336.

Kenan-Norman also said city crews have checked and fueled the reserve generators for the sewer lift stations and are preparing for an increase in flow to the wastewater treatment plant.

As for the sanitation routes, Kenan-Norman said the plan is to begin them as normal today and monitor the weather.

She said if winds become a problem, the service will be suspended and the city will advise of the plan going forward.

She said the plan is to operate the Tar River Transit service on a regular schedule today and monitor the weather. If winds, heavy rain or a combination of both become factors, then transit services will be suspended.

She said the decision will be made this evening about transit services operating on Friday.

N.C. Wesleyan College, NCC, ECC and all public and private schools in the area will be closed today and Friday, except for Rocky Mount Academy, which will close at noon today and remain closed on Friday.

For people wanting to keep track of mailing, the U.S. Postal Service has an online link enabling one to find out about service disruptions.

For updates, go to https://about.usps.com/newsroom/service-alerts/ and click on “current delivery issues” and click on “North Carolina.”

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