HC: Getting back to normal

Published 10:36 am Thursday, September 1, 2011

It’s not all the way back to normal, but it’s getting close.

Five days removed from Hurricane Irene, Hertford County officials are still busy gathering information and putting together plans for what the immediate future may hold.

Only one road in the county (Benthall Bridge Road near Murfreesboro) was still closed as of Wednesday. Floodwaters left in the wake of Irene still covered that road at the twin bridges.

Meanwhile, electrical service is being restored in the county. Hertford County Emergency Management Director Chris Smith said the number of outages, as of 11 a.m. on Wednesday, is down to 2,590 (a combined total for customers of Dominion Power and Roanoke Electric Cooperative). That number stood at 4,600 as of Tuesday.

Smith added that the village of Union has restored its utilities system as of 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Union residents were using the county’s water system as a back-up while repairs were being performed on their water system.

Department of Correction crews are still assisting the Town of Winton with debris clean-up.

The Baptist Men’s Association and American Red Cross are using the West Chowan Baptist Association office on NC 42 West outside of Ahoskie as its local hub of operations. Smith said mobile units are deployed from that site to provide water and food to hard-hit areas in Hertford, Gates and Northampton counties.

On Tuesday, Hertford County was added to a list of 34 North Carolina counties designated under an emergency declaration signed by President Obama. Smith said at this point, that declaration only applies to one portion of FEMA assistance.

“We’ve been declared for public assistance from FEMA for protective measures; the county can recoup expenses for public shelter, staffing extra people, anything we did regarding public safety,” Smith said. “Hopefully by next week, FEMA will look at other categories we can perhaps qualify for. We have not been declared for federal or state aid for debris clean-up.”

Smith added that county officials are still in the process of performing damage assessments throughout the county. Agricultural losses are also being determined. No damage estimates on either were available as of News-Herald press time Wednesday night.

“We are getting a few calls about FEMA. They have not declared any IA (Individual Assistance) as of yet; when and if they do we’ll let everyone know,” Smith said.

The work put in by Smith and other emergency responders is not going unnoticed.

“We have a great team in place as it related to Emergency Management, Emergency Medical Services and our EOC (Emergency Operations Center),” said Hertford County Manager Loria Williams. “They kept everyone informed before and during the storm and are repeating that effort long after Irene is gone.

“We were blessed and fortunate during this storm,” Williams added. “There was no loss of life here in Hertford County and we’re very thankful for that fact.”

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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