Published 10:33 am Thursday, June 7, 2018
WINTON – Perhaps Chris Smith feels like he has signed up for military duty as he has been deployed for service.
Smith, Hertford County’s Emergency Management Director, was selected as one of 14 North Carolina emergency managers to be sent to Hawaii to assist officials there in the ongoing situation involving the Kilauea volcano.
Smith and his counterparts from across the state are part of a team that will relieve nine of the original 10 emergency managers that were deployed for the same reason on May 19.
Upon his arrival on the Island of Hawaii on June 2, Smith will see at least one familiar face. Billy Winn, Gates County’s Emergency Management Director, was part of the first North Carolina team deployed. Winn is remaining in Hawaii for another two-week assignment.
The new team will divide into two shifts and will continue helping the Hawaii County Civil Defense agency staff its local emergency operations center on a 24-hour basis. For the past two weeks, North Carolina emergency managers have been helping their Hawaii counterparts plan and coordinate evacuations, sheltering and logistics, as lava from the Kilauea volcano continues to erupt from fissures and flow toward the ocean.
The new team is comprised of four planning and operations staffers from NC Emergency Management, eight county emergency managers from Anson, Beaufort, Chatham, Cleveland, Hertford, New Hanover and Union counties, and fire officials from Greenville and Greensboro.
The volcano erupted on May 3 and continues to cause damage. In an earlier interview, Winn said fountains of lava are coming out of the ground 20 miles away from the mountain.
“The earth is ripping open and fissures are opening within residential communities, causing hundreds of residents to be displaced,” Winn said.