Public officials across the county gave thanks Tuesday that residents escaped the worst of Hurricane Florence’s wrath and were able to get back to normal so soon after the storm’s departure.
County Manager Bryan Land called Richmond County “very fortunate” compared to its neighbors to the east.
“I commend all of our employees that braved the elements, going above & beyond, working extremely long hours into the wee hours of the morning to make sure the essential services for the citizens of Richmond County remained operational,” Land said in an email.
Richmond County was called on to assist Moore, Scotland and Robeson counties during the storm and fielded all 911 calls from Moore County for a period, Land said.
“You never know when we might be in need, and I would hope the favor would be returned,” he said. “Our thoughts & prayers continue to go out to everyone that received damage from Florence.”
Mayor Antonio Blue said Dobbins Heights fared well during the storm, with the only damage being from a tree that split and hit a house, roof damage from the wind that caused some leaks, and power outages. Blue said all power had been restored to Dobbins Heights residents by Sunday evening.
“Now we’re just letting people get back to their normal,” Blue said.
The Town Council’s monthly meeting, canceled because of weather Thursday, will be rescheduled to either this Thursday or Friday, he said.
Mayor Lee Berry said a “very limited amount” of residents remained without power in Ellerbe, but the city was working to turn it back on.
Because of the city’s new gravity-fed water system, Ellerbe doesn’t rely on a pump anymore and the city didn’t experience any trouble with water and sewers during Hurricane Florence, Berry said.
He thanked everyone in Ellerbe for the work they put in before, during and after the hurricane hit.
“With a small town, everyone came together,” he said.
Families should continue to clear their yards of debris from the storm and place it beside the street so sanitation crews can come and pick it up, he said.
Mayor Bill Bayless said he was “extremely pleased” with the state of the city because everything had started to come back together.
“We’re in normal recovery mode,” he said Tuesday. “We have debris, tree limbs and sticks.”
The city didn’t sustain any significant damage besides trees falling on power lines, Bayless said. Water issues have created transportation difficulties, he said, but homes and businesses remain unscathed.
“I can’t thank Hamlet City Council, the town manager and crews enough for what they’ve done during the storm,” he said, adding that Hamlet has resumed its regular trash pickup schedule.
Residents lost power from Friday to Saturday, but everyone now has it back, Hoffman Town Council member Daniel Kelly said Tuesday.
“(And) no one got flooded out,” he said — “but people have trees and limbs in their yard.”
The picture isn’t all bright, though.
The heavy winds and rain brought by Florence tore the roof from the town’s parks and recreation center and caused low water pressure throughout the city because of a loss of power, Kelly said.
“The power transmission line is down, and a representative told me that they have not fixed it and are not sure when they will be able to fix it,” Kelly said.
He said the town was ready to fix the roof, however, but did not yet have a date when work would begin.
Though roads flooded and water lines broke, Mayor Steve Morris said the preparation of city staff limited damage from Florence.
“I cannot say enough great things about city staff,” Morris said Tuesday. “Many of them worked almost around the clock for four days.”
Morris said city staff did work that people don’t see but that pays dividends when crises come, such as clear creeks to help water flow better, buying a larger water pump and having extra gasoline on hand.
He said that in comparison to Hurricane Matthew, Florence brought more water but less wind.
“We’re a little more prepared each time,” Morris said.
Morris said he lost power at home over the weekend and somehow found time to play “about 256,000 games of UNO” with his two grandchildren, who had evacuated from Morehead.