Carroll County officials are following the lead of other governmental agencies across the East Coast and planning ahead for the potential destruction of Hurricane Florence.
On Monday night, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a mandatory evacuation order for coastal Virginia residents in Zone A in advance of Hurricane Florence, effective Tuesday, September 11 at 8 a.m. He has also advised all citizens of the state to be prepared for the storm as some of the more extreme weather models have forecast as much as 30 inches of rain if the hurricane stalls as predicted.
Already, the Grover King VFW Post 1115 in Hillsville is being set up as an evacuation center. Local VFW officials expected the American Red Cross to come in Tuesday, Sept. 11 to set up in case shelter is needed. Carroll County and Galax officials have also urged citizens to sign up for local emergency alerts.
“During an emergency, County and City officials use Emergency Notification Services such as Nixle to send important messages,” a press release from Carroll County E-911 officials stated. “If you are not registered, go to Carroll County, Grayson County, or Galax City websites and look for the link to subscribe to Everbridge or Nixle. Everbridge will ask for your address. This enables public officials to send geographically targeted messages (e.g., to a specific street or area). The information is used for public safety use only. You can also sign up for anonymous Nixle messaging by texting your zip code to 888777.”
Hillsville Mayor Greg Crowder said the town is already making preparations and disaster planning for potentially hazardous weather. He said the Hillsville Pentecostal Holiness Church is one of the churches that stepped forward to be used as a shelter for people impacted by damage or those who simply just need protection. He also offered a little bit of advice.
“I’m sure other churches will be stepping up also. Just remember, after the storm passes the biggest danger becomes flooding and downed power lines,” Crowder said. “If you see down power lines stay away, keep your pets away. We could see 50 year-flooding. Let’s just pray that there’s not much damage and that we all get through this safely.”
Crowder said Galax Pentecostal Holiness Church will also be opening for people in trouble from the storm. Additionally, he said the Hillsville Police Department will be checking on the shut-ins in Hillsville.
Meanwhile, Governor Northam has issued advise for all residents of the Commonwealth, noting Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) teams have worked throughout the weekend preparing for what may be Virginia’s most significant hurricane event in decades. With Virginia under a state of emergency, and forecasts showing Florence zeroing in on the Mid-Atlantic, the time for all Virginians to prepare is now.
While it is too soon to know the exact track that Hurricane Florence will take, the majority of forecast models are indicating significant potential impacts to Virginia in the form of coastal storm surge, catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages.
Virginia emergency managers and first responders are already mobilizing to prepare for the storm. Governor Northam declared a state of emergency late Saturday in order to mobilize personnel and resources for storm impacts, and to speed the response to those communities that are damaged by the storm. This includes resources from VDEM, the Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Health, Virginia National Guard and others.
All Virginians should expect potential impacts and life-threatening conditions from this storm. Now is the time to prepare—Make a Kit, Get and Plan, and Stay Informed. To learn more, visit www.VAEmergency.gov/hurricanes.
It’s Not the Winds, It’s the Water
The largest threat to life from hurricanes is not the high winds. Flooding is the deadliest result of these storms.
Current forecast models indicate that Florence could strike the Carolinas and enter Central Virginia, possibly stalling and dropping more than 20 inches of rain in some areas. This will lead to widespread and dangerous flooding, inundation of roads and damaged infrastructure. Potential widespread power outages are also expected.
Citizens should prepare for rising waters, flash flooding, and remember to never drive across flooded roadways. Most injuries and deaths occur when motorists try to cross flooded roads. Roads and bridges can be damaged or completely washed away beneath flood waters, and a few inches of water can sweep vehicles downstream. Remember, turn around, don’t drown.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late to Prepare
With the onset of tropical storm force winds and rain only a couple of days away, the time to prepare is now. Get your home, business and family ready for whatever impacts this storm may bring. Hurricane season lasts through November 30, so more storms may target Virginia this year.
Visit http://www.vaemergency.gov/hurricanes to learn how to prepare for these deadly storms. It could save your life.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN