While the NWS predicts equal threats of wind and flooding from Hurricane Dorian, local emergency services are looking at the effects the high winds could bring.
Late Wednesday, National Weather Service Meteorologist Frank Nocera said a chance of flash flooding is predicted along with potential Category 3 winds Thursday night.
According to Onslow County Emergency Medical Services Division Head Dave Grovdahl, the Onslow County Emergency Operations Center is expecting to deal with more wind-related effects. These may be felled trees, downed power lines and blown-off roofs.
“They’re calling for 10-to-15 inches of rain, which is nowhere near as high as the 40 inches we had last year,” Grovdahl said.
Despite this, Grovdahl said, the EOC is planning for all possibilities.
“We don’t write plans for specific events,” Grovdahl said.
The county is setting up first responders in 11 stations across the county, in a strategy Grovdahl calls the “Island Concept.” Each of these islands is responsible for responding to emergencies around them.
According to Grovdahl, each island has enough supplies to function for five days independently. All stations have generator capability; extra food, fuel and personal items; and a bulking of regular ambulance supplies.
There are as many stations as there were during Florence, according to Grovdahl. Medic 1 is based at the county’s Emergency Operations Center, for example. Some are located in regular fire stations, such as Medic 5 at the Swansboro Fire Department and Medic 7 at the Holly Ridge Fire and Rescue.
But one of the stations, according to Grovdahl, was moved from White Oak High School to a new station at Bear Creek on Freedom Way.
The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office will be setting up in flood-prone spots across the county as well.
Last year, according to OCSO Col. Chris Thomas, areas such as Half Moon were blocked when Gum Branch Road flooded.
“We’re staging vehicles in that area now,” Thomas said. “We’re doing the same thing in Sneads Ferry, Hubert, Bear Creek and Richlands.”
According to Nocera, Thursday morning will be the last chance for residents to take precautionary actions. He advised residents to make sure they have enough food for the duration of the storm.
Although there is no mandatory evacuation order for most of the county, Thomas urged those who are able to evacuate and come back after the storm.
“If they chose not to evacuate they need to stay off the roadways,” Thomas said. “People do not need to drive through water … it could be a washout and it could be extremely deep.”
Thomas also warned that driving over downed power lines or under low-hanging power lines could lead to electrocution.
During the storm, Grovdahl said, the winds might be so strong that ambulances will be suspended. According to Thomas, the lower-profile OCSO cars will still be out and rescuing those in need. But those, too, will stop operations when the conditions become unsafe.
“Don’t put yourself in a position where we have to come rescue you,” Grovdahl said.
Nocera gave some good news as well: unlike Hurricane Florence last year, Dorian is not expected to stick around too long.
“It’s somewhat progressive,” Nocera said. “It’s moving. It’s not going to stall over us.”