ROCKINGHAM — Emergency Services Director Donna Wright advised all residents to start making plans for Hurricane Matthew now, in an email to the Daily Journal Tuesday.
“According to the most recent National Weather Service briefing, Richmond County could see between four and six inches of rain and occasional gusty winds,” Wright said. “Now is the time for residents to prepare by reviewing plans and making sure that you have necessary emergency supplies on hand.”
Governors of Florida and both Carolinas have issued states of emergency ahead of the category 4 storm. In the most recent update, the National Hurricane Center reported sustained winds of 140 mph and predicted the storm will take a more westward track than models projected earlier in the day — possibly making landfall as a category 4 hurricane somewhere along the southern east coast Friday or Saturday.
Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist at The Weather Channel, said the storm was approaching the eastern tip of Cuba late Tuesday afternoon.
“The storm is on track to batter the Bahamas which will take days from the time Matthew enters the southernmost islands until it exits the northernmost ones,” Ostro said. “Atmospheric conditions are expected to be conducive to Matthew remaining strong, and models are now consistent with a track of the center close to or into the southeast U.S. The track is still precarious for critical impact details at any given location, yet we’re now getting into crunch time for critical preparation decisions.”
Wright said preparedness is the best defense against the damage that can be caused by heavy rains and tropical storm force winds.
“With the potential rain and wind, this could result in downed trees and power lines that could cause widespread power outages,” she said. “Recommended actions for citizens are: update or prepare your emergency supplies 72-hour kits; discuss your family communications plan; know evacuation routes if you need to leave home; listen to local authorities; put fuel in your vehicle and have some cash on hand; and be aware of flooded or washed-out roads. Just a few inches of water can float a car.”
She advises everyone to keep a photo ID and personal paperwork in a dry, convenient location throughout the storm.
“Do not call 911 to report power outages,” she said. “Contact Pee Dee Electric at 800-693-0190 or Duke Progress Energy at 800-419-6356, or text “OUT” to 57801 to report an outage.”
She also emphasized that residents who see downed trees and power lines, or flooded or damaged roads, should avoid calling 911 about them — and suggested keeping informed on local information and updates from emergency services through the agency’s Facebook page, if possible. She also reminded people to download the ReadyNC app at www.readync.org.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.