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City gearing up for Florence

With memories of Matthew still heavy on their minds, Whiteville public works crews will be vacuuming stormdrains while other officials will take the first steps to set up the city’s emergency command post Monday.

“This is a life-threatening storm,” Whiteville Emergency Service Director Hal Lowder said. “This is nothing to play with.”

The city’s command team began monitoring Florence Friday after models showed the potential for a hit on North Carolina. Department heads will receive assignments Monday, Lowder said.

The city has requested a tractor-trailer load of sandbags from the county, Lowder said.

“Several pallets of sandbags can make a big difference,” he explained.

The city is also lining up other emergency resources, and will begin monitoring the storm around the clock Monday night.

If the city receives a significant impact, Lowder said, city officials want to be as ready as possible.

“This is a storm we have to take very seriously,” he said. “Matthew was downgrading to a tropical storm when it crossed Whiteville. This storm is much larger and stronger.

“If we have a serious impact here, there will be power outages, and there will be flooding,” he said. “That’s going to happen. We have places that flood, and the property owners and city know it. We’ll do all we can to lessen the impacts of flooding, but you can’t keep it from happening. All we can do is prepare, and react as quickly as possible.

“Now is the time people need to be finishing off their emergency preparations,” Lowder said. “That way you have a few days to cool down and double-check. You can’t prevent a hurricane, but you can be as ready as you possibly can.”

Stuart Rogers