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I think if we had two cable companies operating in Greenville we might see improved customer service. But what can you...

Hurricane threat prompts precautions, alarm

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Cars wait in line to get gas at Sheetz on Charles Boulevard in preperation for Hurricane Florence on Sept. 10, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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The Daily Reflector

Monday, September 10, 2018

The threat of strong winds, drenching rain and flooding has state and local officials sounding the alarm and taking precautions ahead of Hurricane Florence.

Greenville and Pitt County officials have scheduled a joint news conference on Tuesday to provide emergency information and address local response to the storm, and Gov. Roy Cooper, who declared a state of emergency on Friday, now is seeking a federal disaster declaration with full support from the state’s congressional delegation.

East Carolina University will suspend classes for the remainder of the week and is urging students to go home starting at noon today, ECU officials announced. Area high schools have rescheduled football games set for Friday, with many teams set to take the field Wednesday night. ECU and Virginia-Tech also is in discussions about proceeding with the game scheduled in Blacksburg on Saturday.

Pitt County Emergency Management Director Allen Everette during a meeting of the county Board of Commissioners on Monday urged residents to be prepared.

"History has shown us that we will have flash flooding with this event," Everette cautioned. "We will have delayed flooding because any water upstream will need to pass this way." Everette said two other storms, Issac and Helene, have also formed in the Atlantic behind Florence.

At 5 p.m. on Monday, Florence was located about 525 miles south-southeast of Bermuda and 1,170 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, according to the National Hurricane Center. It had sustained winds of 140 mph, making it a category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Category 4 storms have sustained winds of 130-156 mph. Category 5 storms, the strongest on the scale, bring sustained winds of 157 mph or higher.

Further strengthening for Florence is anticipated, the hurricane center reported, and it is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday, when it is expected to approach the coast of North and South Carolina. As of 5 p.m. Monday the center of the storm was expected to make landfall somewhere between Morehead City and Myrtle Beach after 2 p.m. on Thursday.

The hurricane center predicts the storm will produce 10-15 inches of rain in the Greenville area and much of the region.

At 5 p.m. Monday Pitt County government issued a state of emergency for all unincorporated areas of the county. The declaration gave county departments greater staffing flexibility to undertake storm preparations.

The declaration does not mandate evacuation orders, implement curfew times, or prohibit the sales of alcohol, dangerous weapons or gasoline. Additionally, no areas have been identified as having restricted access to the general public. However, a county spokesman said changes could occur as the hurricane moves closer.

Today’s joint news conference is expected to include officials from county and municipal government, Greenville Utilities, Pitt County Schools, Vidant Health, the American Red Cross, law enforcement and first responders. 

East Carolina University on Monday said residence halls will remain open for those students who live on campus and are not able to travel home, ECU said. It reminded students who remain to take shelter as emergency response vehicles will not operate when sustained winds reach 45 mph.

Heavy rainfall, flooding and gusty winds across portions of eastern North Carolina might lead to downed trees, prolonged power outages, blocked roadways, closed bridges and disruptions to the water and sewer supply.

ECU officials advised members of the university community to ensure they have a hurricane plan in place, remain alert and only monitor official and credible sources for the latest information.

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones of Farmville, whose district includes much of the state’s coastal area, joined U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr and other N.C. congressmen on Monday in asking President Donald J. Trump to expedite Cooper’s request for public assistance for emergency protective measures for the entire state. 

“This declaration would allow much-needed federal resources to be mobilized to assist in North Carolina’s preparation for Hurricane Florence,” Jones said. “As a representative of the coastal region of North Carolina, I request your expeditious consideration of Gov. Cooper’s petition for an emergency declaration so that essential federal support can be utilized to help protect the people in this region.”

HAZARDOUS DRIVING EXPECTED 

Rain totals of 10-15 inches that could come from Hurricane Florence will flood many roads in the Greenville area and residents can expect closures and hazardous conditions along several major routes and intersections. Teams with Greenville Fire-Rescue rescued about 100 motorists and others people stranded due to flash flooding and other issues associated with Hurricane Matthew in 2016, department spokeswoman Rebecca Thurston said Monday. She encouraged residents to stay off the roads during the storm and reminded motorists to turn around whenever they approach high water. Roads that typically flood in the Greenville area include: 

14th Street and Charles Boulevard

10th Street and College Hill

10th Street and Forrest Hill Circle

First Street and Brownlea Drive

Reade Street and Cotanche Street

Evans Street and Deck Street

Evans Street and Arlington Boulevard

Arlington Boulevard and Red Banks Road

Arlington Boulevard near Fire Tower Road

Dickinson Avenue underpass

Portions of Old Tar Road south of Fire Tower 

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