Preparations are being made as what could be the largest storm to hit Surry County since Hurricane Hugo in 1989 bears down on the area.
Surry County Emergency Services Director John Shelton said he spent Thursday contacting other public safety entities in the county, ensuring all are prepared for the estimated eight inches of rain. Shelton said flooding is a very real concern given the recent weather patterns.
“The ground has already been saturated by recent precipitation,” said Shelton. “Flooding, especially in some of the smaller waterways, is a concern.”
According to Shelton authorities are busy checking generators and other equipment and loading signs onto trucks for possible road closures. Shelton added that contact has been made with the American Red Cross and that the organization is prepared to respond to an emergency situation.
Additionally, Shelton said some Surry County emergency personnel could be headed out of the county to support emergency response efforts in another area.
“We have a team readied that could be deployed out of the county, depending on what happens out east,” remarked Shelton.
Shelton said residents, like emergency responders, can prepare for what could be the largest storm in recent decades.
“Residents should continually monitor weather updates, especially those residents who live in low-lying areas,” said Shelton. “People should also have adequate supplies on hand such as food, water, prescribed medications and batteries for radios and flashlights.”
In the event floods do occur, Shelton cautioned residents not to attempt to cross a flooded area either on foot or in a vehicle. He also warned that residents should use extreme caution when driving at night.
Shelton said Lovills Creek, the Ararat and Mitchell Rivers and other small streams present the largest flooding hazards. He said in recent years Lovills Creek has nearly crested its banks. The last time the creek flooded, according to Shelton, was three decades ago.
Shelton said those residents with “small bridge access” to their property should be especially prepared, because those properties will be the first to be cut off should flooding occur. Shelton also said there is a county-wide “special needs registry.” Those residents will be checked on by authorities should weather conditions become severe.
Andy is a staff writer at The News and can be reached at 415-4698.