Bertie declares SOE

Published 10:06 am Thursday, October 6, 2016

WINDSOR – At the request of County Emergency Services Director Mitch Cooper, Bertie County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Trent has signed local proclamation declaring a “State of Emergency” for Bertie County effective at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5 in preparation for the anticipated wind and flooding impacts of Hurricane Matthew.

In a telephone interview on Wednesday afternoon, Bertie County Manager Scott Sauer told the R-C News-Herald that the State of Emergency did not carry any curfews nor does it restrict the sale of alcoholic beverages.

“We put it in place as a precaution,” Sauer said. “The track of Hurricane Matthew changed drastically between Tuesday and Wednesday. We’re optimistic that it will follow its new projected path and steer clear of us, but we can’t let out guard down, particularly in light of the massive flooding a few weeks ago from what was left of a weakened tropical storm. Nobody predicted in advance we would receive that much rain over a short period of time, but just look what happened.”

For the second time in just 15 days, Bertie County Emergency Management officials are putting resources and assets into action to assist residents, business owners and property owners to prepare for a significant storm event.

On Sunday, Oct. 2, Commissioners Tammy Lee, Ron Wesson, Ernestine Bazemore and Trent joined Windsor Mayor Jim Hoggard to meet with U.S. House of Representative member G.K. Butterfield and his district staff to survey the flood damage in the downtown Windsor area.

“Each of the County Commissioners have taken a very personal interest in supporting our citizens and businesses during the most recent flooding, which resulted from Tropical Storm Julia,” stated Chairman Trent.

“Two of our Commissioners, Vice Chairman Ernestine Bazemore and Commissioner Ron Wesson, were in Washington, DC making presentations to both U.S. Senators from North Carolina, Richard Burr and Tom Tillis,” said Trent.

He added, “Commissioner Tammy Lee has taken the lead in coordinating donations for storm victims, and actively works to keep current information on social media for volunteers and churches who are assisting in bringing support to the citizens of Bertie on a countywide basis.”

Commissioner Stewart White described the conditions in the Town of Windsor as “heart breaking and the thought of another flooding event and damaging winds from a hurricane will be absolutely devastating for the downtown area and surrounding communities.”

As the threat of Hurricane Matthew develops this week, Bertie County’s Emergency Operations Plan is in full active status.  All “community partners” are engaged in the preparation and implementation for storm response including all law enforcement, municipalities, water, electric and telephone utility providers, the hospital and related medical facilities, the NC Department of Transportation, NC Forest Service, Wildlife Resource Commission, Bertie County Schools, the faith community, nonprofit organizations such as the Red Cross and all county departments and agencies.

Yesterday (Wednesday), Congressman Butterfield sent a letter to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory urging prompt support for the citizens residing in 11 counties, to include Bertie and Hertford, impacted by Tropical Storm Julia last month and who now face Hurricane Matthew as it makes its way up the Eastern seaboard.

“I thank Governor McCrory for declaring a state of emergency following Tropical Storm Julia and for requesting a federal emergency declaration in advance of Hurricane Matthew potentially making landfall,” said Butterfield.  “It is critical that all resources, including those from the federal government, be made available in response to these storms.”

In September, torrential rain and strong winds from Tropical Storm Julia caused flash flooding, widespread power outages, downed trees, and damage to homes, businesses, and roads in the northeastern region of North Carolina.  In advance of Hurricane Matthew’s potential arrival on North Carolina’s coast this week, the threat of added flooding and property damage will require additional disaster preparation and funding for the hardest hit communities still recovering from Tropical Storm Julia.

“I have urged the Governor to request additional federal assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region IV and the Army Corps of Engineers for damage caused by Tropical Storm Julia and to provide additional state grants to impacted citizens to help them recover,” said Butterfield.  “I appreciate the efforts the state has made so far in response to flooding in eastern North Carolina and preparing for the impending arrival of Hurricane Matthew, but there is undoubtedly more that can be done to help assist North Carolinians who were harmed by Tropical Storm Julia.”

Rep. Butterfield said he will continue to work with local, state, and federal officials to make sure the areas affected by the immense flooding receive resources needed to get back on track.

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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