As Pitt County began to feel the effects of Hurricane Dorian’s landfall on Wednesday, City of Greenville and East Carolina University officials are emphasizing the need to be prepared in the event of flooding, high winds and potential power outages.
Hurricane Dorian made landfall in eastern North Carolina yesterday, and the Pitt County area is expected to be impacted by the storm through today and Friday. On Friday, Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the hurricane.
As of Sept. 2, Senator Thom Tillis and President Donald Trump spoke over the phone to discuss the Governor’s emergency declaration. Trump told Tillis he will be granting the Governor’s emergency declaration and assured Tillis that the state will have the federal government’s full resources to respond to Hurricane Dorian.
Just got off the phone with President @realDonaldTrump. He told me he will be granting the Governor's emergency declaration and assured me that North Carolina will have the full resources of the federal government to respond to #HurricaneDorian. Thank you, Mr. President. #ncpol— Senator Thom Tillis (@SenThomTillis) September 2, 2019
On Sept. 3, Cooper said he received approval from Trump for the declaration of emergency he requested on Monday.
At the request of Senator Thom Tillis, I am getting the North Carolina Emergency Declaration completed and signed tonight. Hope you won’t need it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2019
Greenville Fire/Rescue (GFR) Chief Eric Griffin said GFR employees have been made aware of the potential impact Hurricane Dorian may bring to the city as well as making sure the equipment is ready-to-go. He said GFR’s fire trucks, EMS and swift-water rescue assets are ready to respond if needed.
“We also have, as a city, the fire department is the emergency management coordinator so we’ve met this morning (Tuesday), as a city, department heads, to ensure that every department is prepared just in case we do have a major impact from the storm. Right now we are in the monitoring phase, so there’s not an emergency operations center stop open, but it’s prepared to open if need be,” Griffin said.
Griffin said if there are sustained winds over 40 miles per hour, GFR will limit its responses to high-priority, emergency calls. He said if you find yourself in an emergency do not hesitate to call 911.
According to Griffin, the Uptown Greenville into the Reade Circle area is prone to high amounts of flooding in the event of a hurricane. He said other areas such as along First Street, near the Tar River are prone to flooding.
“The city is going to provide sandbags and things of that nature to city residents who are interested in filling those up,” Griffin said. “I would say to move all of the perishable goods to a higher level if your business has been known, or even your home, has been known to have flooding in the past.”
Griffin said city residents should make sure they are in a “sturdy location” in the event of a hurricane. He said ECU’s residence halls are constructed from non-combustible material, and are able to sustain the higher winds.
On ECU’s campus particularly, an area prone to flooding is the parking lot at the bottom of College Hill. Griffin said it would be wise for students who park in the area to move their cars to higher ground if possible.
If an individual finds themselves outside during the hurricane, Griffin emphasized to “turn around, don’t drown,” meaning to refrain from driving or walking through standing water. He said not to go through standing water because people don’t know what could be found in it, such as fallen powerlines or contaminants.
“If you go back to (Hurricane) Matthew that struck us a few years ago as well as Irene that was several years back, those storms came and they stalled kind of like it did over the Bahamas this past weekend, so we ended up getting more of an impact even though the category had downgraded to one,” Griffin said. “Those storms can still cause a lot of impact so people should be prepared and not take it for granted.”
Griffin said to make sure city residents should be staying indoors and staying off the roads “as much as possible.”
It’s never too early to be prepared for a hurricane by having an emergency plan in place and supplies on-hand, Griffin said. It’s important to be prepared because you can’t fully predict the effects of a hurricane, he said.
In the case of a long-term power outage or water shortage, supplies will be limited and stores may not be open. He said to get supplies such as food and water ahead of time, before the event, because you never know the extent of impact the storm may have.
“It is always our highest priority to ensure that public safety is our utmost priority and they can know that the city as a whole has already met and will continue to talk and meet to ensure we’re prepared to respond in case we need it,” Griffin said. “It’s always good for us to be prepared.”
ECU Police Department (ECU PD) Deputy Chief of Police Jason Sugg said the department is preparing at the operational level for Hurricane Dorian by prepping its resources such as staffing and equipment.
Sugg said ECU PD will have extra staffing available so the department is able to respond if need be to emergencies or safety issues during the hurricane.
“Generally speaking, this can apply to anytime, but especially when we have a hurricane that’s passing through, people, think about personal safety, think about the safety of your neighbors, think about the safety of your friends and the people that are around you,” Sugg said. “Make good, reasonable decisions about staying safe.”