Access storm info in real time

By Bill Colvard -

Surry County emergency services director John Shelton met with representatives of dozens of agencies on Wednesday to discuss and update emergency plans that may become necessary in the wake of Hurricane Florence.

“We talked about everything from shelters, detours and road closures to flooding, wind damage, downed trees and power outages,” said Shelton.

For those who need information before or during the storm, Shelton said that the Surry County Public Safety Portal is the best way to access information in real time during an emergency. The portal can be reached at or can be easily found by Google searching for “Surry safety portal” and can be accessed by smartphone if power outages take out internet service.

For persons without internet capabilities, a phone call can be placed to the emergency services main number at (336) 374-3000.

The public safety portal will give instructions, information on shelter management and real-time radar weather as it becomes available. The menu buttons for that information is on the right side of the page.

Locations in each of the county’s four towns have been identified as shelters if the need for shelters arises: Franklin Volunteer Fire Department in Mount Airy, the Armfield Center in Pilot Mountain, First Baptist Church in Elkin and Surry Community College in Dobson. If shelters are opened, that information will be available on the public safety portal.

Surry County is a host county for evacuees, according to Shelton, and Surry Community College is on standby to receive evacuees from the coast if it becomes necessary.

Shelton said that if power outages cause risk to life for people with life support systems, EMS will attempt to maintain them in place, bringing a generator if necessary.

“Sometimes, it’s more dangerous to try to move someone,” said Shelton.

“The most recent information makes it sound like it will be nothing worse than a bad storm,” said Shelton late Wednesday afternoon. “We’ve dealt with five inches of rain many times in the past. It doesn’t mean we’ve gone without problems, but we got through it. Now, seven inches or more, that could cause a bit of issues. We have to plan for the worst.”

By Bill Colvard

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.