LAURINBURG — As Hurricane Florence continues to huff and puff its way toward the Carolinas, officials in Laurinburg and Scotland County are stepping up preparations.
The storm, which became a Category 4 on Monday afternoon, would be the strongest hurricane to ever hit the Carolina coastline if it remains that strong.
According to City Manager Charles Nichols, the city has secured extra generators for the water and sewer department, as well as stocking up on gasoline. As for electricity, the preparation is a year-long occurrence, such as cutting trees to keep them away from power lines.
“We are currently working on going through and making sure the drains are clear to help in case of flooding,” Nichols added. “We’re staying on top of the schedule and we’ll continue working with the Emergency Operations Center to prepare.”
County officials are also keeping a close eye on the storm, as well as warning those in rural areas to be prepared.
“The biggest risk is power loss, people in rural areas and well (water) will lose power and water,” County Manager Kevin Patterson said.
He suggests filling bathtubs with water on Thursday and buying jugs of water or bottled water.
“Family members who are health sensitive should order oxygen tanks and meds through next week, at least five days ahead,” Patterson said.
According to Director of Emergency Services Roylin Hammond, there are updates on the storm twice a day — at 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
“We have a meeting at 5 p.m. (Monday) with everyone to discuss what we’re going to be doing,” Hammond said. “But right now is a good time to start preparing.”
To prepare, Hammond suggests individuals have enough food and water to last at least 72 hours. He suggests having canned food and a manual canopener.
“For each individual to comfortably be OK, they need about a gallon of water a day,” Hammond said. “So for a family of four, have at least 12 gallons of water.”
He also recommends putting gas in your vehicle before the storm, since, if the power is out then folks won’t be able to pump gas — as well as getting cash to have on hand.
Should it become necessary, there are shelter locations in the county. The main location is Scotland High School, along with three secondary locations —; Carver Middle School, Spring Hill Middle School and Sycamore Lane Elementary. According to Hammond, the county hasn’t ever had to open the secondary locations during a storm.
“We do not typically have to evacuate Scotland County,” Hammond said. “We don’t typically have much flooding but we could if the storm halts over us. It all really depends on the storm and it’s subject to change.”
Hammond, along with Nichols and Patterson, all recommend monitoring the media to see the changes in the storm and receive updates.
“Just be prepared — we all saw how it affected our neighbors in Lumberton,” Nichols said. “Take all precautions, hope for the best and stay on top of the weather.”
The EOC has a meeting that The Laurinburg Exchange will be covering at 5 p.m. Monday and will continue to update as the storm progresses.