When it comes to assessing the damage of Hurricane Florence in New Hanover County, in some ways, the area is in better condition than it was with Hurricane Matthew. In others, however, it’s much worse.
Florence brought 24 inches of rain to NHC (Hurricane Floyd was 19 inches), which is exacerbated by the fact Wilmington reached its annual rainfall total by mid July this summer at 50 inches. At the latest press briefing on Monday, Sept. 17, Mayor Bill Saffo said areas along the Cape Fear River are reaching record crests this week, including 62.3 feet being among the highest on Tuesday. Between the Lumber, Black and Cape Fear rivers, folks can expect a significant flooding event in eastern NC.
All roads still remain closed to get into Wilmington, however, the Raleigh Police Department has sent 30 additional officers to join an additional 10 state troopers to help with traffic control as more roads reopen. For now, the weather is cooperating with cleanup and linemen crews (some from other states like Indiana) as they continue to clear main roads (Oleander, Market, et al.)
“We hope to open more routes on Wednesday,” Mayor Saffo said. “But be mindful of the fact it will be awhile before we get it all back together.”
“We are trying to get additional fuel into the city,” Saffo noted. “FEMA help will be here as soon as we can get them into the city.”
Carolina Beach will reopen to residents only on Monday, but NHC Commissioner Chairman Chair Woody White reminds citizens to stay off the roads. There will be a notification sent out by the city and county when people can return.
“Progress is being made in supply distribution,” he noted on Monday. “Distribution locations are still being confirmed . . . stay tuned for further announcements on three sites . . . [centers in] north, central and southern parts of the county.” They are hoping to have one open at 7 a.m. tomorrow morning but ask residents to stay tuned for more info.
Additional emergency response crews are coming, as 81,000 residents remain without power. So far New Hanover County estimates a damage assessment $13 million and contents lost $2.7 million. About 700 citizen rescues have occurred to date as larger shelter consolidations began yesterday into Hoggard High. Unfortunately, an individual died of natural causes at Hoggard overnight, but there are no other updates. Yesterday the press release briefing mentioned another shelter opening at UNCW opening, but today they made no mention of it.
District Attorney Ben David addressed recent cases of looting in the area and said people, pets and property protection were top priority. Any arrests made at this time could land folks in custody for a while.
“If you get arrested right now it might be a little bit before the courts reopen,” he reminded. “Charges right now include felony breaking and entering and larceny.”
Raleigh Police Department sent 30 more officers and 10 state troopers to Wilmington PD, according to Mayor Saffo, especially to help with traffic control with so many lights being out.
Another problem, which can come with civil penalties, is price gouging. While good samaritans have been taking their chainsaws and tractors out to help folks clear debris and trees, there have been reports of people taking advantage of desperate circumstances.
Under the law, the attorney general’s office could go after price gougers and so citizens should report violations. However, the first line of defense is doing as much research as possible before contracting someone to help with Florence aftermath cleanup.
“Entering into good business deals is the best defense from price gouging,” David reminded. “Please, get several quotes before [hiring] for a job. . . . If you find a good person, share them with your neighbors.”
There is a public hotline for questions and information at (910) 798-6800.
For more updates, visit emergency.nhcgov.com.
Other important numbers:
Public Information Hotline
UNCW Emergency Info
CFCC Emergency Info
United Way 211