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It's the Water, Not the Wind
NOAA presents Hurricane Prep Seminar at Town Hall
July 27, 2022

riental Mayor Sally Belangia can laugh now, but in 2018, she remembers when Hurricane Florence flood waters reached the second porch step of her home. “And I was not even in a flood zone; I was scared.”

Sally’s story supported the topic of the evening at Town Hall, July 20, that water is the enemy.

The rainfall totals from Hurricane Florence. Our area saw over 14 inches. Some locations saw over 30.

“Don’t rely on the numbers alone,” said speaker Erik Heden, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] meteorologist. He referred to hurricane category numbers from one to five, determined by speed alone.

“I’ve heard people recount surviving a Cat. III and determined that a Cat I or II would not be that bad,” he added.

“Not so,” says Heden. “The enemy is water. We are the most impacted coast line in the United States.”

A clear example of high water peril – Hurricane Florence’s over 9 ft surge placed this boat on top of the docks.

He referred to storm water and rain that cover eroded streets and are no longer safe. He says that more than half of the deaths from water take place in vehicles. Water can even kill long before a storm makes landfall, citing rip currents that can reach the shoreline days before, during and after the storm itself.

On land, flash floods and water surges can trap residents who fail to evacuate.

The hurricane season is from June 1 to Nov. 30. Heden says residents should already be prepared to move quickly if necessary.

While Heden emphasized water as a major hurricane threat, he added that storm categories are significant in decisions to evacuate.

The NOAA predicts an above normal 2022 Atlantic Hurricane season with 14 to 21 named storms of which six to ten could become hurricanes.

2022 Hurricane Season Outlook.

Heden says now is the time to complete evacuation plans:
1. Determine the risk [if you stay] that includes your home’s elevation [check you insurance agent], flood maps [weather.gov] and evacuation routes.
2. Prepare an emergency kit of food, water, medications and pet needs.
3. Determine where you are going and how to get there. Check evacuation zones on weather.gov. The hitch to evacuating is planning early.

Said Belangia “The town can order residents to evacuate, but cannot force them to do so.”

She added, “Our roads cover up, and when winds reach 55 mph, our trucks cannot get to us. The first 72 hours are on you.”

She encouraged residents to sign up for the county’s ‘Code Red’ to receive notifications, emergency routes and evacuation orders.

According to Town Hall officials, evacuations, once ordered by the county, begin 72 hours prior to a storm landfall. Residents who need shelters can go to the Pamlico Community College, 5049 NC Hwy., Grantsboro. [252-249-1851].

A slide from the NOAA presentation illustrating the cause of storm fatalities.

During Hurricane Florence, the county provided buses for evacuations. Some evacuees were bused to Raleigh due to a full shelter at the college.

Residents can also pick up a free “Hurricane Storm Preparedness” brochure at Town Hall, 507 Church St., Oriental. The brochure includes important telephone numbers, information for medically – frail residents and basic evacuation information.

Video of the NOAA Hurricane Prep presentation, July 20 at Oriental Town Hall:

Story by Anne Siren.
Related Links
NOAA Newport NC
Atlantic Tropical Storm Outlook
Atlantic Tropical Weather Discussion

Posted Wednesday July 27, 2022 by Allison DeWeese

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