Hurricane Florence has left devastation in the eastern part of the state, but Yadkin County managed to avoid any major effects from the storm. Last week, emergency personnel and local fire department volunteers put in countless hours monitoring and preparing for the storm, should it strike the area.
On Sept. 11, a meeting was held at the county’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that was attended by municipal leaders, law enforcement and fire chiefs. At the time, predictions were that Yadkin County was in the direct path of the hurricane once it made landfall. The path changed, but by the end of the week, Yadkin County was still expected to get what was termed “historic” flooding in the area. Some roads were flooded and schools were closed on Monday, but the predicted 26.6-foot flood level for the Yadkin River did not come to pass.
“Yadkin County was very fortunate with this storm as the Yadkin River and its creeks and streams have held their own and produced minimal flooding in our county,” said Yadkin Emergency Services Director Keith Vestal in a press release sent Monday afternoon.
For most of last week, the county’s EOC was staffed with employees keeping close watch on the storm’s progress and ready to respond to area residents in danger from flooding. National Guard teams were also on standby on Monday should the need arise to evacuate individuals from flooded areas.
“Data yesterday had indicated potential flooding of approximately 1,800 homes and businesses within the county, with most being in the upper northwest section of the county in the Jonesville area. Thankfully, the river did not crest at higher than normal flood levels,” Vestal said in the release. “The Yadkin County Emergency Operations Center, fire departments, rescue squad, Yadkin County Human Services, IT department, and animal shelter, as well as the National Guard were prepared to take whatever action deemed necessary to assist our residents and keep them safe.”
As of 3 p.m. on Monday, the EOC had closed as the threat of major flooding had passed.
“Yadkin County Emergency Services and all of the county’s first responders have done a magnificent job preparing all of us for the potential impact of Hurricane Florence. We are very thankful that all of our citizens are safe and have not been effected to the magnitude of our friends and neighbors in the eastern part of the state,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Kevin Austin in the press release. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are still battling the aftermath of Florence.”
Following Monday’s meeting of the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners, Austin said the county was lucky to have missed the worst of the storm, but cautioned area residents to pay attention to warnings as the next storm might not miss the region.
“Right up until late [Sunday] evening, it looked like the heavy bands of precipitation from Florence were coming right at Yadkin County,” Austin said. “We were just blessed by some miracle they skirted just to the east and spared us what was certain to be the worst flooding we had seen in a lifetime here. That may not be the case next time so we need to be always aware of what could happen. I’m so proud of our emergency management team for monitoring this so closely and being prepared for what may have happened.”
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-518-3049 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.