Weather repeat?

Published 9:51 am Tuesday, October 4, 2016

WINDSOR – Be ready.

Yet another storm may be headed our way, according to the latest forecast from the National Weather Service (NWS) – this one being the current Category 4 Hurricane Matthew.

It’s still too early to tell, with either a direct impact to the East Coast or a bypass altogether expected later this week, possibly the weekend, but local officials still want to warn Bertie residents to be prepared.

With the area still reeling from the disastrous effects of the 17 inches of rain that fell over the area during a three-day period (Sept. 19-21) from the remnants of Tropical Storm Julia, causing massive flooding in downtown Windsor and other areas of the county, this early preparedness is more important than ever, says Bertie County Manager Scott Sauer.

“I think the main thing is that every household, unless you’re in danger of flooding, be stocked for at least 48-72 hours of electrical loss, just in case, as many trees may be coming down if this thing does hit us, cutting down electrical lines,” he stated.

Sauer added, “Folks need to be thinking about filling their freezers with ice, about their water and food supplies… I’d recommend filling empty soda bottles or milk jugs (with water) and freeze them days in advance… as much early preparation as folks can have, the better the potential outcome.”

Sauer recommended that citizens make sure they have fully charged batteries in their radios as well as their flashlights, in the case of a power outage.

“It’s also important that you help take care of your neighbors, especially the elderly or single moms, to make sure they have everything they need to get through the storm,” he added.

Sauer continued, “But more importantly than anything, start early by saying your prayers that this thing moves out to the east and doesn’t impact us at all.”

The latest NWS forecast projects that Matthew is likely to hit the Carolinas sometime this weekend. As of 3 p.m. yesterday (Monday), North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for 66 of NC’s 100 counties, including Bertie, Hertford, Northampton and Gates.

Bertie County Emergency Management Director Mitch Cooper also weighed in on the issue.

“The grounds are still saturated from the last heavy rainfall and flooding we saw (from Julia),” he stated.

Cooper continued, “Depending on the track forecast Wednesday, that’ll tell us a lot more… it’s still too early to tell at this point, but people should always be prepared, have plenty of water, batteries, food, just like in every storm… and especially after this last one, restock.”

Governor McCrory’s declaration, made at the request of NC Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler’s, is intended to help farmers prepare ahead of this storm to harvest their crops and get them out of harm’s way in time.

While much uncertainty still exists about Hurricane Matthew’s storm track, meteorologists have cautioned that the southeastern areas of the state could see gusty winds and rain bands as early as Friday morning. Current forecasts are predicting rainfall amounts of three to five inches across much of the east with tropical storm force winds between 39 and 73 miles per hour extending nearly 200 miles from the center. With grounds already saturated from recent heavy rains, emergency officials are preparing for downed trees and power outages. 

“While we do not yet know how Hurricane Matthew will impact North Carolina, we do know that we can expect some form of impacts on our state,” said Governor McCrory in a press statement Monday afternoon. “Already, we’ve seen substantial flooding in eastern and central parts of the state from recent rain events, and many areas are already saturated. We are taking this storm seriously, and I encourage residents and visitors do the same.”

The State of Emergency declared by McCrory facilitates the movement of any resources that may be needed to respond to the storm. It also waives truck weight, size and hours of service restrictions so that farmers can quickly harvest their crops before the storm hits.

“Hurricane Matthew is a powerful and large hurricane that has the potential to create devastating impacts even if it hits North Carolina with a glancing blow,” said North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “Our federal, state and local partners are coordinating to ensure our state is adequately prepared for Matthew’s impacts and we urge North Carolinians to prepare at home, too.”

Follow N.C. Emergency Management on Twitter and Facebook for the latest on Hurricane Matthew. You can also get real-time traffic and weather on the ReadyNC mobile app.