Hertford County orders mandatory evacuation

Published 6:46 pm Friday, August 26, 2011

WINTON – Hertford County officials are not taking any chances regarding the expected storm surge and flooding impacts of Hurricane Irene.

Pending any changes of the track or intensity of Irene, county officials have ordered a mandatory evacuation of residents living in Tunis, Cotton Island, Leisure Shores, and Arrow Road (Ahoskie Township).

Additionally, the county’s leadership team has upgraded their earlier state of emergency to include a countywide curfew as well as banning the sale of alcoholic beverages.

A curfew will be in place from 8 p.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Sunday. The sale of wine, beer and liquor will stop at 10 p.m. Friday and will resume at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

A shelter for Hertford County citizens will open at Hertford County High School at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26.  Please bring blankets, needed medical supplies and personal items, including food for at least three days.  Anyone with a special medical need must be accompanied by a caregiver at all times during their stay at the shelter.

If Irene remains on its predicted path, Hertford County residents can expect to begin experiencing tropical storm force winds (38-59 mph) around 11 a.m. until 12 noon Saturday. Winds will increase to near hurricane strength (60-70 mph) in the early to mid-afternoon hours.

“We’re expecting the strongest sustained winds in the eastern part of the county,” said Hertford County Emergency Management Director Chris Smith.

Along with the wind, Smith said he’s been advised that rainfall in Hertford County is expected in the 10-to-12 inch range.

“If this storm turns out, as expected, as a 12-hour event, that’s about one inch of rain per hour,” Smith noted. “Even though we’ve been extremely dry this summer, when it rains that hard, that fast, water tends to run off rather than soak in. That rapid run off leads to flash flooding.”

Smith said the combination of strong winds and heavy rain may result in downed trees, which can lead to power outages.

“The only good news that I can share is that Irene is expected to weaken in strength as it makes landfall on Saturday and may come across our area as a Category 1 storm,” he stated.

Storm surge along the Chowan River is also expected. Smith said the latest information made available to him (as of Friday afternoon) indicated a possible storm surge in the 3-to-4 foot range.

“Hopefully, we’ll all be in the clear sometime Sunday morning, but, as usual with hurricanes, that depends on a lot of variables,” Smith said.

Hertford County citizens can call 358-7819 for the latest updates or visit www.r-cnews.com.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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