Damage in Greenville area light — so far
By Seth Thomas Gulledge
and Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector
Friday, September 14, 2018
The Greenville area had escaped significant damage from Hurricane Florence by 10 a.m. Friday but strong winds and rain are expected to continue through the day, officials said.
No deaths or injuries and little damage have been reported since the storm began in ernest Thursday afternoon, according to officials with the Greenville and Pitt County. Some trees have fallen but were quickly cleared from roadways, officials said, and a crews also have been able to restore power after a few minor power outages, officials said.
“Overall, county infrastructure has fared well throughout the night, with only localized disruption to power and roadways,” said Allen Everette, Pitt County emergency management director.
“Although we have already worked our staff very hard through several rotations, and have overcome several challenges thrown our way, we recognize that we are just now seeing the full effects of this system, and remain committed to tackling the newly mounting challenges of today,” Everette said.
RAIN AND WATER
The National Weather Service reported at 6:30 a.m. that the Greenville area could receive nearly 8.5 inches of rain through Sunday night, although the intensity will begin to diminish Saturday night.
It reported the Greenville area has received 3-3.5 inches total rainfall since Thursday afternoon and the community could receive up to 2-4 inches in the next few hours, with additional amounts expected throughout the day.
The Ayden and Grifton area could receive approximately 10 inches of rain.
Greenville Utilities Commission had recorded 2.89 inches of rainfall between midnight and 9 a.m. at its Mumford Road operations center and a total of 4.4 inches of rain during the last 48 hours.
The Tar River was nearly at flood stage in Grimesland, measuring 6.8 feet as of 9 a.m., according to the weather service. The river gauge at the Town Common recorded river levels at 9.6 feet at the same time.
According to data posted on the Pitt County government Florence information page, flooding was reported in the 600 block of Clarks Neck Road, closing that road. Flooding also was reported in the 700 block of East 14th Street. It also was reported that fallen trees were blocking roads at 2325 Springhill Road, 3000 Beddard Road, 1843 Rams Horn Road, 3390 Ayden Golf Club Road and at 203 Davenport Farm Road.
A survey of roads Friday morning by The Daily Reflector showed many low-lying areas remained clear of high water. Portertown to 10th Street, N.C. 33 to Grimesland Bridge Road and Grimesland Bridge Road to Clark’s Neck Road all were passable.
High water from Tranter’s Creek crossed Clark’s Neck Road at Gresham Lane.
Maurice Smith, who was helping to guide a friend through the water on Friday morning said high water in that location is not unusual and happens sometime during heavy thunderstorms.
Smith, 45, a painter at Grady White Boats, has lived in the area his entire life. He said he Florence was not a bad storm compared to others.
“It’s pretty good back that way,” he said, pointing to his neighborhood, back away from the flooded road.
In Greenville, 10th Street at Oxford Road was clear Friday Morning, as was Mumford Road and North Greene Street north of the Tar River, and roads in downtown Greenville.
Charles Boulevard was open at the railroad bridge, but eastbound 14th was blocked at Charles.
ROADS AND RESCUES
Greenville Fire-Rescue Chief Eric Griffin said Friday morning the city was about halfway through the most acute effects the hurricane.
As of 10:45 a.m., no death or injuries have been reported in the city, and the department had not conducted any water rescues. In 2016 when Hurricane Matthew hit the city, the department conducted 100 rescues in the first night.
“I will say we were thoroughly prepared and the storm moved in a fashion that was much more beneficial for the city of Greenville,” he said. “I think that the storm was a significant storm, but we fell in an area that was just not as active as other areas of the state.”
Rebecca Thurston, a public information officer for the city, said that no traffic accidents have been reported because of the storm. The State Highway Patrol reported that it has received few calls to assist motorists in the Greenville area. A dispatcher said a motorist wrecked on Greenville Boulevard at Charles Boulevard about 6:48 a.m. Friday, but the incident was minor.
Several trees have fallen on or near roadways over the course of the storm, and are being cleared by city crews, Thurston said. She said they did receive one report of a tree falling on a private residence on Sunset Avenue.
Griffin added that wind and flash flooding will remain a concern for most of Friday, and urged people to remain off roadways if possible.
Closed roadways as of 8:30 a.m.:
■ 14th Street from Charles Boulevard to West Berkley
■ Evans Street from Arlington Boulevard to Arthur Street.
■ First Street from Elm Street to Meade Street.
■ Fifth Street in front of ECU’s main campus.
Expected Road Closures:
■ Arlington Boulevard from Red Banks Road to Hyde Drive
■ Charles Boulevard from 14th Street to Ficklen Drive
Greenville was one of the lucky few cities in eastern North Carolina that weathered the storm so well. Griffin said because of the increasing need for residents in Craven County, the department has deployed 14 personnel and a rescue boat to the county.
The Greenville Police Department has also reportedly deployed officers to help respond to calls for service there.
The storm’s effect on local infrastructure was “minimal” overnight, according to Griffin, who cited 43 active power outages in the Greenville/Pitt County area when he was briefed from Greenville Utilities Friday morning.
Greenville Utilities’ Outage map reported that 63 customers lost power in Greenville, 22 in Chicod and 36 in the Hollywood Crossroads. Several other outages had already been fixed by crews throughout the night.
Duke Energy Progress’s Outage Map reports 815 of the 2,011 customers it has in the Grifton/southern Pitt County area are without electricity. It’s unknown when the power will be restored.
Dominion Energy reported more than 160 Bethel area customers were without electricity.
“When a storm like this comes in overnight you don’t have the luxury of being able to see what is going on around you. It also makes it a little more difficult for any crews that have to go out,” said Michael Emory, Pitt County director of public information. “We did have some challenges trying to assist our partner organizations.”
More than 900 people were in Pitt County shelters as of midnight. The numbers are as follows:
Ayden Middle School: 200
EB Aycock Middle School: 160
Hope Middle School: 94
Farmville Middle School: 109
Wellcome Middle School: 345
Walter B. Jones (special medical needs): 19 patients, 10 caregivers.
The Pitt County Animal Shelter had accepted more than 200 pets as of 8 p.m. Thursday included 186 dogs, 38 cats, one rabbit and one pig.
Some of the five shelters opened in the county started running out of cots Thursday night, Emory said.
“While there is not necessarily a guarantee of a cot we don’t want the lack of one to potentially turn people away from the shelter,” Emory said.
Because of the large number of shelters being operated statewide, the state Division of Emergency Management couldn’t assist, Emory.
Emergency Management Director Everette, whose son is an Eagle Scout, managed to secure an additional 250 cots from the Boy Scouts of America, Emory said.
“Last night, in the storm, we sent a truck and an enclosed trailer to get those,” Emory said. “They didn’t get back until midnight, but they were able to distribute (the cots) to the shelters.”
East Carolina University provided tumbling mats to the shelters, Emory said.
“It’s not cots but it’s better than the floor,” Emory said. “We are doing all we call to help our organizational partners to provide a modicum of comfort.”
While the American Red Cross, which operates the shelters, isn’t required to offer cots to people seeking shelter, local officials want people to be as comfortable as possible, Emory said.
“If a lack of comfort potentially keeps someone from seeking shelter we are going to do the best we can to provide some level of comfort in that situation,” he said.
Individuals who may seek out the shelters in the coming days are advised to bring pillows, sheets and blankets, sleeping bags if available and a small air mattress if available. Emory said large, king-size air mattresses are not’ accepted because of space limitations.
Individuals can learn more about preparing for a stay at a shelter by watching an informational video available at www.pittcountync.gov/florence.
The county also has a Spanish language website and video available at www.pittcountync.gov/huracan.
The hurricane’s effects on Pitt County remain uncertain.
“We are far from done with this system,” Emory said.
Emergency management officials are closely watching rainfall amounts. The National Weather Service is forecasting Pitt County could receive nearly 9 inches of rain, which Emory described as good because significant flooding will be unlikely.
“We are right on the edge for uncertainty. If it is pushes to 12 inches or beyond that puts up into a territory of water like we had with Matthew.”