On Tuesday, emergency officials, fire chiefs, law enforcement, town and county leaders gathered for a briefing ahead of Hurricane Florence, which is expected to impact much of the state this week.
“Unfortunately we’re here under bad circumstances,” said Yadkin County Emergency Services Director Keith Vestal. “We’ve got a monster out in the Atlantic and it’s got its eye on Yadkin County. All these models are directing it towards us. We’ve got to gear up and plan on this being worst case scenario for Yadkin County.”
The exact path of the storm continues to change, Vestal said. Models as of the time of the meeting predicted the path to turn south of Yadkin County putting the county on the right side of the storm where all the rain bands come, Vestal said. A high pressure system also is expected to cause the storm to linger over the area.
Various models predict anywhere from tropical depression to category one force winds to impact the area likely causing downed trees and power outages.
Vestal said reports are indicating 10-plus inches of rain will be dumped on the area resulting in historic flooding of the Yadkin River and other waterways in the county.
Area residents were encouraged early in the week to make preparations for the impending storm.
“Get ready now,” said Governor Roy Cooper at a press conference on Monday morning.
“Florence is a threat well beyond our coast,” he added.
By Tuesday, bottled water, milk and other necessities were in short supply in local stores, indicating that many are taking the threat of the storm seriously and are preparing.
Vestal said one of the most important things he would like to impress upon area residents is to make a plan early to evacuate for those who live in flood prone areas.
There are no official evacuation orders in place at this time in the county, but Vestal said it is of utmost importance that people be aware of where they live and if the have seen flooding near their homes in the past, they should make plans now to move vehicles and other belongings out of the path of the flood zone.
Preparations are in the works to open shelters in the county should the need arise for people to evacuate their homes due to flooding, downed trees or extended power outages.
The Yadkin County Animal shelter will provide shelter for companion animals, cats and dogs only, for those who need to make use of the shelters should they be unable to stay at home due to the storm. In preparing for the storm, Jason Roels of the Yadkin County Animal Shelter, said that pet owners should treat pets the same as they would their children and have any medications and paperwork such as proof of rabies vaccinations ready to go should they have to evacuate their home and go to a shelter.
Vestal said county residents should prepare to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. Batteries, drinking water and stored water to use for flushing toilets as well as nonperishable food and food for pets are a few things on which he suggested folks stock up.
Outdoor furniture should be secured in a location where it won’t blow away or possibly blow into windows and break them. Vestal added pets should be secured as well so that thunder and lightening wouldn’t frighten them and cause them to run away.
“Another reminder is don’t use charcoal grills, camps stoves or any of those types of things to prepare meals indoors,” Vestal said. “You need to go somewhere it’s well ventilated to use those types of cooking devices, because they’re not meant to be inside, and please don’t use generators inside because we don’t want anybody to have carbon monoxide poisoning.”
Yadkin County could begin to see the effects of Hurricane Florence by Thursday with breezy conditions and some rainfall, but the brunt of the storm is expected to impact area residents on Friday and throughout the weekend, Vestal said.
Though not as vulnerable as coastal areas, Hurricane Florence is expected to cause significant issues throughout the state. Problems in the county may include flash flooding of creeks and streams that could impact roads, homes and businesses; river flooding, wind damage to homes, trees and power lines; increased risk for tornadoes and extended power outages.
As of Wednesday morning, a State of Emergency had been declared for Yadkin County ahead of the storm. By declaring a State of Emergency, the county will have access to state and federal assistance during and following the storm.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-518-3049 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.