A recap of local EOC activity during Hurricane Florence

By: Jael Pembrick - Staff writer

LAURINBURG — The Scotland County Emergency Operations Center turned into a 24-hour information and service hub this past weekend, updating the public and housing emergency personnel with a place to plan and be informed.

SUNDAY

The Scotland County Emergency Operations Center had received warnings from the National Weather Service Sunday afternoon. The county is under tornado watch and flash flood watch.

“The National Weather Service has forecast that in the next two hours we will receive 7 inches of water,” said County Manager Assistant Travis Allen. “That is 3.5 inches per hour.”

The Emergency Operations Center has all hands on deck Sunday morning as the rain continues to cause flooding and evacuations. Saturday night, some residents in the flood plain areas were evacuated due to rising water levels.

County Manager Assistant Travis Allen reports Scotland High School sheltered 125 people last night. Some returned home in the morning and 91 residents remain.

Allen said on Saturday, all six circuits were restored to power the city. Florence winds and rain knocked out four overnight-leaving some residents again without power.

“Additional crews are out helping the city (electric department crews) restore power,” said Allen. “A lot of trees that knocked down powerlines, they have been restored.”

Florence rain continues to impact the county and the EOC expects to four to eight more inches of rain.

Laurinburg residents are slowly coming out for gas and food. Some gas stations and restaurants are open. Wal-mart is letting 20 people in at a time.

“We still are encouraging people to stay indoors,” Allen said. “Curfew is still in effect.”

SATURDAY

After feeling the first affect of hurricane Florence, many residents of Laurinburg were out of power. Director of Scotland Emergency Services Roylin Hammond was glad to report that and that officials are working to power up the city.

“The City of Laurinburg reported that five of the six circuits are out, they believe that four should be up soon,” said Hammond.

He said some parts were broken on the circuits, so it may take longer to fix those circuits.

“We have not had a storm as nearly as bad as predicted, but we are not out of the woods yet,” Hammond said. “There are roads blocked from fallen trees but firefighter teams are clearing them so roads should be open fairly soon.”

On standby are teams from different states who came down to lend a helping hand but because the storm has not currently caused major flooding, Hammond says they will not be used just yet.

“We are headed back to normal, some businesses and restaurants are opening up,” said Hammond.

The problem arising now is flooding. Scotland County Emergency Services and Emergency Management released that they had identified a 100-year floodplain in Scotland County at 8 a.m. Saturday morning.

SCES and EM are concerned that in the next 24 to 72 hours, flash flooding could affect the county, especially in the floodplain areas. Hammond highly suggests that people not drive through standing water.

Emergency Services cannot force citizens to evacuate, but they are asking citizens to be prepared to evacuate immediately should your location begin to flood. If you need assistance or have any questions call 910-266-4666.

FRIDAY

The Emergency Operation Center in Laurinburg took Hurricane Florence seriously, becoming a 24-hour hub for emergency service personnel on Thursday.

Overnight, the N.C. Department of Corrections helped the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office evacuate 115 inmates from the county jail.

From 10 p.m. to around 2 a.m, inmates were moved to safer jails outside the flood areas.

Hammond reports that they have high water clearance vehicles and have requested that more come from the National Guard and that, in hurricane weather, water moves and even standing water is dangerous.

“We are expecting extreme flooding in places we have never had flooding before,” added Hammond, “Over the next 36 to 72 hours it may get rough.”

He said there are two swift water rescue teams staged in Aberdeen.

“We staged them outside of the county so, wherever the situation is, they can get up and go,” Hammond said.

Hammond reports that the curfew worked well and was proud to see not many out past 7 p.m.

“Please continue to stay inside, the wind is going 39 mph now and we expect it can go up to 50 mph,” Hammond said.”There are 20,000 Duke power workers, but they will not come until it is safe to work.”

He added that the wind and rain will continue Friday through Sunday and it possibly could extend to Monday.

Jael Pembrick

Staff writer