ROCKINGHAM — Those seeking shelter from Hurricane Florence started making their way to Richmond Senior High School on Thursday, following signs directing them to the rear parking lot and lower level of the front entrance.
Cots have been set up in the hallways, said Director Robby Hall of the Department of Social Services. Workers are prepared to expand the shelter, he said.
Residents in need of transportation may call Area of Richmond Transit at 910-895-1313 or 910-417-4947 to have an ART van pick them up from their homes.
School cafeteria staff will provide three meals a day for duration of need.
Nurses will be on site with the ability to transfer patients to hospitals if necessary.
Upon arrival, each resident must present a photo ID and provide information on any medical needs.
Residents may not take firearms, drugs, alcohol or tobacco into the shelter.
Once registered, they will have to re-register if they leave campus.
The shelter, in addition to meals, will provide showers, blankets and board games.
The Red Cross has donated water, snacks and signs.
Four National Guardsmen are supporting the Richmond County shelter until the Red Cross gets there. Staff Sgt. Craig Dobson said they likely would move on to another shelter once the high school shelter is fully staffed.
For more information, call 910-417-4947.
In other hurricane-related news …
No flashlights but lots of water. Rockingham Walmart Manager Brain Fore said Thursday that food and household section empty out especially quickly. “We’re completely out of flashlights,” he said. “We try to get in as much water and bread as we can.” Fore was expecting a delivery of batteries, lanterns and two-packs of propane gas to come in later Thursday. The store had no plans to close over the weekend but will post and update on Facebook of things change.
Supplies keep on coming. Within the past week, Lowes home-improvement stores across the state have received about 2,700 truckloads of supplies, according to sales assistant manager Dennis McSwain. Deliveries have included generators, bottled water, sand, trash cans and bags, he said. McSwain also expected another truckload to arrive Thursday evening, depending on the weather. Lowes sold “more than 1,000 generators in the past two days,” he said. Relief teams also have been put in place “as needed” to help serve the community and assist stores with customers needs. Lowes will be closed Friday.
No power? Cash only. Store owner Carnie McDonald of ACE Hardware in Hamlet listed in-stock items as flashlights, batteries, coffee pots to use over fires, tarps, plastic wrap, propane gas and candles. ACE is, however, running low on Flipits, a battery-operated LED light that works as a light switch with little effort to set up. According to McDonald, they’re selling fast because the batteries are included. ACE Hardware will remain open as long as it’s safe for customers to travel. Should a power outage occurs, ACE will be able to take only cash.
Gas ran out twice, but no more … The Arco BP gas station in Hamlet has run out of gas twice since the announcement of Hurricane Florence but has restocked and should not run out again, said store manager Sharell Woods. In-stock items include water, lighters, ice and charcoal.
Customer Stan Patrick stopped by the station to fill his van with gas in preparation for the storm. He also works with Walker Automotive in Rockingham and said the store was stocked with supplies pre-mixed fuels for chainsaws, as well as generators and gas cans. He said the shop would stay open as long as there power stays on.
What will the storm cost? The AccuWeather forecasting company estimates that damage from Hurricane Florence will be $50 billion to $60 billion. AccuWeather founder and President Joel Myers said Thursday that much of that would result from flooding, with coastal damage as the second-biggest factor. Winds came in third.
No breaks expected. Gov. Roy Cooper has urged North Carolinians not to ease up in their preparations for Hurricane Florence, despite forecasts that the storm will move southward and lose sustained wind speeds. Cooper said Thursday that he was concerned because he had heard some people say North Carolina was “getting a break.”
Nuke plants shut down. Duke Energy Corp. has shut down its coastal North Carolina nuclear power plant in Brunswick. The company said Thursday that it began powering down one reactor early in the day and soon would start shutting down a second reactor. The Brunswick plant’s two reactors share the same design as those in Fukushima, Japan, that exploded and leaked radiation following a 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Since then, federal regulators have required all U.S. nuclear plants to be reinforced against earthquakes and flooding. Duke Energy did not provide information about specific changes made at Brunswick, other than to say emergency generators and pumps would remove stormwater if the plant flooded.
Information from reporters Gavin Stone and Jasmine Hager, as well as reports from The Associated Press, were used in this compilation.