Safety agencies, local municipalities and school representatives in Pitt County got together to discuss how to prepare for Hurricane Dorian at Wednesday’s multi-agency press conference at Eastern Area Health Education Center.
Emergency Management Director for Pitt County Randy Gentry said any impact to the Pitt County area is expected to be felt as early as Wednesday Evening but the most significant impacts will occur on Thursday afternoon and into the evening.
Pitt County has a state of emergency effective which began at 5 p.m. on Wednesday for the unincorporated areas, Gentry said. The emergency operation center (EOC) will be partly activated to assist with shelter needs and special medical needs. The EOC will be fully activated beginning tomorrow at 1 p.m. The public information hotline is (252)-902-3999, Gentry said.
No evacuations are currently expected for Pitt County, Gentry said. Resources have been requested from the state highwater vehicles and swift-water rescue teams, he said.
Five general population shelters will open today at Ayden Middle School located at 192 W 3rd Street in Ayden; E.B. Aycock Middle School located at 1325 Red Banks Road in Greenville; Hope Middle School located at 2995 Mills Road in Greenville; Wellcome Middle School located at 3103 North Memorial Drive in Greenville and Farmville Middle School located at 2914 Grimmersburg Street in Farmville.
The public is asked not to bring donations to the shelter as information on where to drop off donations will be provided later, Gentry said. Animal Services will provide shelter for animals but only owners with animals in emergency situations are encouraged to drop off animals. The shelter will be open on Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and throughout the weekend, Gentry said.
Mayor P.J. Connelly spoke on behalf of the City of Greenville at Wednesday’s conference. He said it is the responsibility of the city to ensure the safety of the citizens and their property.
As of 2 p.m. Thursday, Greenville will activate its emergency operation center at a level two status, Connelly said. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Connelly declared a state of emergency for the city of Greenville, he said.
All city construction projects are currently being secured ahead of the storm, including the Town Creek Culvert Project, Connelly said. Wednesday morning at 8 a.m., sand was made available for citizens of Greenville to prepare sand bags at the sandpit located at 1200 North Holly St.
“Like everyone, the City of Greenville is continuing to monitor the progress of hurricane Dorian. Since late last week, the city has been taking a proactive approach in preparing for the worst possible scenario,” Connelly said.
Communications Manager for Greenville Utilities Steve Hawley said crews are prepared to respond to utility related emergencies. He said he asks customers to write down their emergency hotline which is (855)-SOS-2GUC.
Greenville Utilities Commission will keep up with social media to inform the public, but it does not recommend reporting utility outages via social media, Hawley said. If there is a down powerline or phone line, he says to not touch it and to call 911. Generators should be used in well ventilated areas, he said.
Regional Communications Officer Cally Edwards with the American Red Cross said five shelters will open Wednesday at 6 p.m. but it will not be providing food shelters until Thursday. Edwards said if evacuating a pet is necessary owners should bring carriers and pet food.
Red Cross shelters will be opening across North Carolina. By downloading the Red Cross app, citizens will be able to find other shelters, Edwards said.
“This storm, even though we don’t know what the direct effects will be on eastern North Carolina, is a reminder that we always have to be prepared and preparedness does start at home with you and your family, so this is a urgent reminder to always be prepared, make that plan, stay informed and listen to officials and evacuation orders as they happen,” Edwards said.
East Carolina University’s Chief of Police Bill Barnwell said classes after noon on Thursday and all classes on Friday are canceled including online classes. Normal game day preparations are expected to resume on Saturday, he said.
For employees on Thursday the University will operate under condition one of the University of North Carolina System adverse weather and emergency event policy.
“We ask that anybody looking, seeking additional information about operations at ECU follow trusted ECU officials trusted social media accounts only,” Barnwell said.
Pitt County Sheriff Paula Dance said all officers are scheduled for rotating shifts during the storm.
Deputies from school security, civil enforcement and other departments are being reassigned to the patrol division. Deputies will remain throughout the county until deemed no longer safe to do so, Dance said.
Dance warned citizens not to cross any flooded roadways or go through any barricades. Roads that could have been underwater may have washed away which could be deadly, Dance said.
“I encourage all citizens to pay close attention to the state of emergency declaration and adhere to all directives issued by Pitt County and its office of emergency management,” Dance said.
Greenville Police Department (GPD) Police Chief, Mark Holtzman said additional officers will be brought in. He said that all investigative units will be in uniform over the next few days.
This will support GPD two operations respond to the storm and support the communities usual public safety needs, Holtzman said.
“This is really going to be a flash flood event, I believe and that’s our biggest concern in the city, getting our barricades out. So if you don’t see a barricade on a roadway and there’s water moving along it, we ask you to stop, wait and call our police department and we will respond and put barricades up,” Holtzman said.