About 50 officials from various agencies throughout Surry County met Friday to discuss preparations for rain and wind expected this week as a result of Hurricane Joaquin.
According to Surry County Emergency Services Director concerns leading into the storm include downed trees, flooding and power outages.
Shelton told the assembly of officials that the storm would likely hit sometime Friday afternoon, and with it five or more inches of rain and heavy winds. Shelton ensured that public works departments throughout the county were prepared with proper signage for road closures.
Public works departments in the county have also been checking storm sewer drains to ensure water drains appropriately in the event of heavy rainfall.
Shelton also said he is prepared to call in state forestry personnel to aid in the removal of downed trees, though the county will have 46 personnel on stand-by for tree removal.
According to Shelton one major concern in storms such as the one that is likely to hit Surry County this weekend is the relocation of people with “over and above” health needs. Shelton said he has coordinated preparations with local nursing homes, in hopes of alleviating any need to relocate people.
Additionally, Shelton said the county has some generators that can be placed at the homes of people who are on life-support equipment if power to those homes is cut off. Shelton said in the event of a mass outage people would need to be relocated to shelters around the county.
With the possibility of flooding, the county also has multiple water rescue teams and three boats at the ready. Shelton said if Surry County is spared the brunt of the storm those teams and other personnel could be deployed elsewhere in the state.
According to Shelton heavier rains are expected in higher-lying regions such as Wilkes County and areas in Virginia. Shelton said the water will obviously run downhill and could cause additional flooding concerns in Mount Airy and the rest of Surry County.
In the end, Shelton said nobody can be certain what the storm will bring, but that officials can be ready for anything. Shelton encouraged officials to monitor “WebEOC,” which is an online emergency operations center on which all developments will be posted.
Shelton said the county does not plan to set up an actual emergency operations center. However, he said that the measure could be taken if the situation in Surry County necessitates that action.
He also addressed funding for any measures that might be taken in the event of the storm. Shelton encouraged officials to track spending, explaining that any spending above one percent of a department’s annual operating budget could be reimbursed by the state since the governor has declared a state of emergency.
Andy is a staff writer for The News and can be reached at (336) 415-45698.