CARTERET COUNTY — Morehead City resident Chris Morey said he hasn’t gotten back in his home yet because of damage from Hurricane Florence, but he and many other county residents find themselves once again preparing for the possible effects of Hurricane Dorian.
With the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Florence next week, he was keeping his chin up as he stocked up on supplies Monday morning at Food Lion.
“I started Sunday loading up with water and things like that. I’m back today for things like bread, peanut butter and beanie weenies,” he said. “We don’t know if the power will go out or how long it will be off.”
Food Lion store manager Keith Fick said his store has been busy since Saturday with people stocking up on supplies. Many stores, such as Food Lion and Walmart, were out of water and bread Sunday.
“People seemed to start earlier this year,” Mr. Fick said. “We ran out of water yesterday (Sunday) but we got more in today. I know we’re still in awareness stage, but we’re already seeing people buying bread, water, canned foods and pastas.”
Mr. Fick added that his store would stay open as long as possible depending on the track of the storm.
“We’ll keep getting deliveries and stay open until they tell us to close or we lose power,” Mr. Fick said. “Back during Florence we were without power for so long that we had to throw all of our food out. We’re hoping corporate will send us a generator if it comes to that, but I really don’t know.”
As for Mr. Morey, he said his home was severely damaged in September 2018 from the high winds and rains during Hurricane Florence. He and his family are currently staying in another house while they work to repair their home. However, the house they are staying in is about to be sold, so he is already planning to move back in even though there is much work left to do.
“Our house got ruined. We just got the floors back in,” Mr. Morey said.
On Bogue Banks, town staff in each of the four municipalities are prepping for the storm. Municipal officials from throughout Carteret County will gather for a control group meeting with Carteret County Emergency Services at 3 p.m. Monday to make plans for Dorian’s arrival.
On the east end in Atlantic Beach, Town Manager David Walker said while much of the staff is off Monday for Labor Day, they’re still preparing for the incoming storm.
“Public works tomorrow (Tuesday) will be taking trash cans off the beach and flags down,” Mr. Walker said. “As Thursday approaches, we’ll be ready.”
Mr. Walker said it’s too early to tell if Atlantic Beach will evacuate. He said town officials hope that County Emergency Services will call for voluntary evacuation, not mandatory.
“If they call for an evacuation, they’ll have to close the schools,” Mr. Walker said, “because they’re hurricane shelters.”
To the west of Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores Police Chief Ryan Thompson said staff is topping off its fuel reserves for generators and vehicles. Mayor Ken Jones said they’re doing “the early things” to prepare for Dorian.
“We’re starting to stage our (water) pumps to pump out stormwater,” Mayor Jones said, “and contact our (debris removal) contractor. We’ve activated our CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) so we’ll know who’s here.”
The mayor also said staff has sent out several advisories to residents on hurricane preparations.
“We’re taking a leg up in getting prepared,” Mayor Jones said, “though I hope it’s all for nothing.”
Further to the west, Indian Beach Mayor Stewart Pickett said his town staff is taking similar precautions.
“We’re making sure everything is battened down,” he said. “We’re having meetings with our staff and will meet with county emergency personnel this afternoon.”
On the west end of Bogue Banks, Emerald Isle Mayor Eddie Barber said staff is getting ready for whatever might happen.
“We’re getting everything ready,” he said.
The mayor said town officials have not decided whether to request a voluntary or order a mandatory evacuation and won’t do so until at least after county emergency officials meet at 3 p.m.
“We might not even decide then,” the mayor said. “It could be another day. Everyone’s watching the (forecast) path very closely to see when are going to start getting some effects.”
The town did take the unusual step of opening town hall on Labor Day to accommodate property owners who want to pick up re-entry passes.
“Matt (Zapp, town manager) and I talked about it Sunday, and we decided it was a good thing to do,” Mayor Barber said. “We know there are a lot of people who will probably be leaving town today or Tuesday, so we thought it was important to make sure they had a chance to get their passes so they can get back into town.”
The mayor and the manager rounded up three staffers to work on the holiday in the town administrative building, and Mr. Zapp said there was a line at the building when the employees arrived at 8 a.m. and there had been a steady stream all morning. The staff planned to work until 5 p.m.
Another decision was to order large stormwater pumps and the generators to run them, early. Last year, during Hurricane Florence, the town ordered generators and pumps, but the floods from the torrential rains held up the delivery. It was several days before the pumps were able to significantly reduce flooding in streets and yards, particularly in the Coast Guard Road corridor.
“We haven’t decided where those pumps would go,” Mayor Barber said. “We’ll wait and see where they are needed, if they are.”
Mr. Zapp said the generators are supposed to arrive Monday and pumps should come in Tuesday.
He said town public works crews were out checking storm drains and cleaning them out if needed. In addition, he said, “We have contacted all of the homeowners’ associations that have retention ponds to draw them down as much as possible if they have the capacity to do so.”
The town will pick up trash Monday and Tuesday but will suspend service Wednesday and Thursday. In addition, the town was out picking up yard debris, but asking people not to put out any more debris for the duration of the week.
“We’re urging everyone to secure their personal property and make sure there is nothing out that can be blown around,” he said.
The town is also working closely with Carteret-Craven Electric Membership Corp. to deal as quickly as possible with any power outages that might occur.
Finally, Mr. Zapp said, the town plans to send out updates to residents and property owners twice a day using email, texts and Facebook, as it did during Florence.