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Greenville area 'lucky' as Florence exits

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Barricades block a portion of Arlington Boulevard near Red Banks Road as heavy rainfall continued throughout the day Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

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By Seth Thomas Gulledge
and Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Greenville area emerged largely unscathed by Hurricane Florence as tropical rains and winds began to subside Friday afternoon, officials said.

Up to six inches of rain has fallen in the area since the storm began in the area on Thursday. The storm resulted in minor flash flooding in the area, a few road closures, a small number of fallen trees and power outages as of Friday afternoon.

“Our anticipation is that tomorrow we will see a de-escalation of this system as it slowly exits our area,” said Allen Everette, Pitt County Emergency Management director. “If and when that occurs, we will meet with all operational partners to re-assess and modify our plans moving forward.”

No deaths, injuries or significant damage has been reported by authorities in Greenville and Pitt County. Tropical storm conditions are expected to continue through Saturday morning with chances of rain expected to continue through Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

“We’re very lucky the impacts were not as severe as we first projected a couple days ago,” Greenville Mayor P.J. Connelly said. “I feel like the city was very well prepared, we did a lot of of prep work. The crews are out there right now addressing a lot of the issues that came along with the storm. It’s nice that our community was spared in Hurricane Florence but we do have a lot of focus on some of our southern counties, especially New Bern.”

The storm battered communities in Craven and Carteret counties and points farther south. Four deaths have been attributed to the storm, according to Gov. Roy Cooper’s office, including a woman and her infant killed by a tree falling on their house in Wilmington.

Authorities in Pitt County also feared significant river flooding as Florence approached. As of Friday, those concerns had subsided.

The Tar River in Greenville was at 10.77 feet at 3 p.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service. It is expected to reach minor flood stage, 13.5 feet, by Wednesday. The river crested at 24.5 feet after Hurricane Matthew, which brought major flooding.

Officials said high winds and flash flooding will remain a concern throughout Friday night, but police and firefighters in Greenville experienced low call volumes throughout Thursday night and Friday and will resume normal operations on Saturday morning, said city spokeswoman Rebekah Thurston.

Connelly said calm in Greenville allowed the city to dispatch 17 members of its swift water rescue team to assist in Craven County; 17 members of the Greenville Police Department will be deploying to New Bern Friday night. 

“The nice thing about the region is, when anybody has trouble or has resources that are necessary, we all sit down and work together to provide those resources because a lot for those communities probably during Hurricane Matthew assisted us in some of this issues that we had. It’s only right that we go ahead and return the favor.”

Most of the storm’s effect on Greenville came in heavy rain and trees falling throughout the city, blocking roadways and causing power outages. As of 4:30 p.m. Friday, the city’s public works department responded to 86 calls for service, most of which involved flooded streets and fallen trees. Crews were still working to resolve 14 of those calls. 

“Our public works department is amazing,” Thurston said “We have a very dedicated group of employees working to provide service for the residents of Greenville.”

According to Thurston, no curfew will be in effect on Friday night, though the city still advises residents to stay home as flash flooding is still a threat. Several roads were closed on Friday due to flooding and fallen trees. Officials reported closures at the following locations:

■ 625 Clarks Neck Road

■ 6691 Clarks Neck Road

■ 650 Milton Drive, Winterville

■ 999 E. Hanrahan Road, Grifton

■ 2325 Springhill Road, 3000 Beddard Road

■ 1843 Rams Horn Road

■ 3390 Ayden Golf Club Road, Ayden

■ Raymond Harris Road, Winterville

■ 203 Davenport Farm Road, Winterville

■ 1498 Whichard Cherry Lane Road, Stokes

■ 1606 VOA Site C Road

■ 5550 Grimes Farm Road, Grimesland

■ 816 State Road 1565, Washington (north of Grimesland)

■ 3101 S. Memorial Drive near Dexter Street

■ 11 E. Arlington Blvd.

■ 942 E. 14th St.

■ 2201 E. Fourth St.

■ 101 E. Berkshire Road

■ 1359 S.W. Greenville Blvd.

■ 304 McCrae St., Grifton

■ 4841 Weyerhaeuser Road, Ayden

The Greenville Utilities Commission reported that 4.5 inches of rain had fallen at its Mumford Road Operations Center between midnight at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Slightly more than 6 inches of rain was recorded for the 48-hour period.

The weather service reported the Greenville area received 3-3.5 inches total rainfall between Thursday afternoon and 6:30 a.m. Friday. Further reports were unavailable because of problems with telephone lines to the Newport office.

The National Weather Service said the Tar River in Grimesland was just below minor flood stage, 6.9 feet, at 3 p.m. Friday.

No property damage had been reported in Grimesland or Clarks Neck Road of Pitt County as of 2 p.m., said Michael Emory, Pitt County public information director.

Contentnea Creek at Grifton was at 8.39 feet as of 3 p.m. Because the river gauge in Grifton is new, flood stage levels haven’t been established.

A total of 904 people had taken refuge in emergency shelters set up by Pitt County and the American Red Cross by Friday.

The number had fallen to 743 by 5 p.m. Friday when totals at each shelter were: E.B. Aycock Middle School: 153, Wellcome Middle School: 220, Ayden Middle School: 151, Hope Middle School: 82, Farmville Middle School: 107, special medical needs: 20 patients and 10 caregivers.

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