Pitt County held a press conference Tuesday morning to discuss Hurricane Florence preparedness and response from multiple organizations. The meeting included representatives from municipalities in Pitt County, emergency responders, transportation officials, law enforcement and disaster assistance organizations.
“We are facing a potential direct hit from a category 4 hurricane with 140 mph winds. Folks, this is a very dangerous storm.”
Emergency Services Director Allen Everett said Pitt County has requested assistance from the National Guard and swift water rescue teams to assist with any flood related emergencies during the storm.
“If the system stalls out over land, areas could expect 15 to 20 inches of rain. The National Weather Service is telling us that is a real possibility that some time after that storm makes landfall, it will stall out resulting in a large amount of rainfall.”
Everette stressed the importance of residents preparing for the storm, which could knock down trees, make roads impassable and cause widespread power outages. He said they expect flash flooding to occur during the Hurricane and river flooding from inland rainfall to continue days or weeks after the storm.
“There are many in our area that have been through hurricanes before,” said Greenville Mayor P.J. Connelly. “But I can’t stress enough, that the forecast for this hurricane is unlike any of those we have experienced before. Please take this one seriously.”
Connelly said the City of Greenville opened their Emergency Operations Center Tuesday morning and rescue equipment is being prepared throughout the city. The Public Works Department has been clearing ditches of debris to help with localized flooding.
“We are placing barricades near areas that we know are prone to flooding to expedite the process of closing road.”
At the press conference, Steve Hawley, communications manager and public information officer for the Greenville Utilities Commission said they’ve been making preparations since last week to respond to outages quickly and efficiently.
“We haven’t had an event, knock on wood, that’s been a combination of heavy, heavy rains that’s caused flooding and heavy, heavy winds that’s caused a lot of outages. Thankfully, we have had some dry weather the past couple of weeks. Our big problem with trees going down like in Irene, is if you get a lot of rain and the soil gets moist, it’s a lot easier for the trees to get blown over on the power lines. So we’re just hopeful. We’re prepared for the worst and hoping for the best.”
Pitt County issued a state of emergency for the unincorporated areas of Pitt County Monday at 5pm. The County will operate five emergency shelters opening tomorrow at 6pm.