Michael slams Florida; rain swamps Scotland

By: W. Curt Vincent - Editor

LAURINBURG — Residents in Scotland County weathered another round of severe wind and rain Thursday as the remnants of Hurricane Michael, downsized to a tropical storm by the time it reached North Carolina, swept through the region.

Only a few weeks after Hurricane Florence hammered the state as one of the slowest-moving storms, Michael arrived in the state after making landfall on the coast of the Florida Panhandle and sweeping up through Georgia and South Carolina.

Locally, a number of areas in Scotland County were still dealing with challenges left behind by Florence on Sept. 14 — including flooded neighborhoods as well as water-damaged homes and businesses — and Thursday’s storm only added to the problems.

“We’re in a wait and see mode,” Roylin Hammond, Scotland County Emergency Services director, told WLNC radio on Thursday morning. “We’re expecting this to move through the area quickly — the less time it spends over us, the less rain and wind there will be to cause damage.”

Meteorologists for both The Weather Channel and AccuWeather, as well as FEMA officials, were predicting anywhere between 3 and 9 inches of rain for the region from Michael. A tropical storm warning was posted for the region on Wednesday and flash flood warnings went up on Thursday morning.

“This one rapidly intensified; it was the worst case scenario,” said FEMA Administrator Brock Long. “This was one of the top five intensity storms to make landfall since we’ve been collecting weather data in 1851.”

Michael, which made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane with winds up to 155 mph, traveled in excess of 20 mph through the southeast. By comparison, Florence moved at just 3 to 5 mph as it hung over the Carolinas.

Despite its speedy journey through the region, Michael was expected to bring some of the similar problems Scotland County faced with Florence.

“We should still expect limbs down, power outages, roads blocked and flooding,” Hammond said. “People need to stay home and let crews do their work.”

On Wednesday, Scotland County Chairman Whit Gibson signed a State of Emergency that went into effect at 8 a.m. Thursday. Likewise, Laurinburg Mayor Matthew Block signed a similar declaration that went into effect at 10 a.m. Thursday.

By mid-afternoon Thursday, the heaviest rainfall in the region had moved to the northeast.

Those who have questions about services or need to report problems have a myriad of options. They include:

— Scotland County Emergency Services hotline: call 910-266-4666.

— Duke Energy: call 910-536-0505 or 800-452-2777.

— Scotland County Sheriff’s Office: 911 or 910-277-2580 or 910-276-3385.

— Laurinburg Police: 911 or 910-276-3211.

— Ambulance services: 911 or 910-277-8003 or 910-276-1313.

— Laurinburg Light & Water Department: 910-276-1521.

— Laurinburg Fire Department: 911 or 910-276-1811.

— Laurinburg Street Department: 910-276-2364.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-506-3023 or [email protected]

County and citydeclare statesof emergency

W. Curt Vincent