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Update: Storm could bring 10 inches of rain, strong wind

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"Go Away Flo" is spray painted on a boarded up window at Halo on Dickinson Avenue in preperation for Hurricane Florence on Sept. 13, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Hurricane Florence is expected to drop up to 10 inches of rains and bring winds sustained winds of about 50 mph through Saturday, the National Weather Service reported at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Predictions about the storm have fluctuated, but forecasters and emergency officials said Greenville-are residents still should expect a strong and dangerous storm and should avoid traveling.

Meteorologists with the weather service’s Newport/Morehead City office said Greenville could now expect to receive 8-10 inches of rain now through Saturday. Southern Pitt County could receive up to 15 inches and the Bethel area 6-8 inches.

Through Saturday, maximum sustained winds of 47 mph were anticipated for most of Pitt County while portions of southern and southeastern Pitt County could see sustained winds of 53 mph.

Previous story: Damage, flooding expected

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service Newport/Morehead City said Thursday morning that Greenville-area residents should anticipate some damage from excessive rain and wind brought by Hurricane Florence.

Tar River flooding remains an unknown at this time, according to a hydrologist with the National Weather Service. Flash flooding related to rainfall and a storm surge is expected, but the likelihood of additional river flooding is dependent on the hurricane’s path, she said.

“I would say the risk of major flooding on the Tar River as of (Thursday) morning is 25 percent,” hydrologist Sarah Jamison said. “But a very, very slight wobble in Florence or a slowing of the track at all and we could be under the gun again.

“Right now the rainfall is not expected to cause flooding but you guys are still under the envelope of high uncertainty, high risk,” she said.

Steve Hawley, Greenville Utilities Commission communications manager, said the utility is monitoring an anticipated storm surge that could send 9-10 feet of additional water from the Pamlico Sound into the Tar River, but the greatest concern is the 6-10 inches of rain expected to fall over its coverage area starting Thursday into Saturday.

“Even six to 10 inches of rain is going to cause more problems with already saturated grounds,” Hawley said. “It can weaken the ground enough that we could start seeing a lot of trees coming down.”

A group of 25 linemen from Atlas, Tenn., and Greeneville, Tenn., already are in Greenville to help with restoration efforts, Hawley said. A group from Leesburg, Fla., is also in town and crews from Mount Dora, Fla., were driving in on Thursday.

Duke Energy announced on Tuesday that up to a half-million of its customers in the Carolinas could lose electricity. Duke Energy supplies electricity to Greenville.

“We are hoping the transmission lines continue to operate as they are suppose to,” Hawley said. GUC has an agreement with Dominion Power (which serves the town of Bethel and supplies electricity to Grifton) to provide an alternate source for power should the Duke transmission lines go down.

“We don’t anticipate losing electricity for weeks. Our customers could potentially lose power for hours or maybe days but we don’t anticipate losing for weeks,” Hawley said.

The town of Grifton was without electricity for nearly a week following Hurricane Matthew because floodwaters reached its substation and Duke Energy transmission lines to the town were damaged, said Mayor Billy Ray Jackson.

At the town’s request, Duke Energy put up a dam-like device to prevent flood waters from reaching the substation, he said.

“When people are in bad conditions, the roads are flooded and you can’t get to the grocery story, if they can keep electricity, keep the air conditioning running and be able to take a bath — it doesn’t sound like much but that’s a big help,” Jackson said.

The National Weather Service is forecasting that Contentnea Creek at Grifton is expected to produce moderate flooding impacts such as road flooding and some homes near the creek.

As of 7 a.m. Thursday the creek was at 6.13 feet. It its expected to reach 13.5 feet, slightly above minor flood levels, by Tuesday.

Jackson is hopeful the effects won’t be that severe.

“Earlier this week, fortunately, there were parts of Contentnea Creek where we could see sand bars. To be able to see sandbars, hopefully there will be enough room in the creek to hold surplus water,” Jackson said.

Greenville’s forecasted rainfall amounts through Saturday are 6-8 inches of rain. Southern Pitt County could see 8-10 inches and the Bethel area 4-6 inches for the same time period, according to meteorologists.

Through Saturday, maximum sustained winds of 47 mph were anticipated for most of Pitt County while portions of southern and southeastern Pitt County could see sustained winds of 53 mph.

A storm surges of 9-10 feet still is expected for the Tar River. Flash flooding of area roadways and low-lying areas is expected.

While the city of Greenville and Pitt County have not issued curfews as of 11 a.m. on Thursday, the town of Grifton implemented a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew starting on Wednesday through the foreseeable future.

Pitt County reported 172 people were in the county’s five shelters as of 11 p.m. on Wednesday. The largest group, 73 people, stayed at Ayden Middle School. E.B. Aycock Middle School had 69 people, Hope and Wellcome middle schools each had 15 people and no one stayed at the Farmville Middle School.

Contacts

Hurricane updates

Pitt County: pittcountync.gov/FLORENCE

Greenville: Greenvillenc.gov and click on the Hurricane Florence update bar.

City of Greenville Information Hotline: 329-4164. Call 911 for emergencies.

Ready NC: readync.org

Power outages

Greenville Utilities: 1-855-767-2482

Edgecombe-Martin EMC: 1-800-690-0657

Pitt & Greene EMC: 252-753-8778

Dominion Energy: 866-366-4357

Duke Energy Progress: 800-419-6356

Power outage updates

GUC: www.guc.com/outage-map

Dominion Energy: www.dominionenergy.com/ and click on “Outage Center”

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