Pocahontas Emergency Management Office on Hurricane Florence’s Potential Impact Here

We interviewed Mike O’Brien of the Pocahontas County Emergency Management Office concerning the potential threats to the area posed by Hurricane Florence and the preparations being made for the storm’s arrival.

“As Hurricane Florence approaches, we’re watching that close” O’Brien said. “We’re not sure of the exact path at this time.  A hundred miles one way or the other can make a big difference. A lot of predictions (are) for the possibility of a lot of rain on us, so we’re currently in preparation mode and doing some upgrades to our Emergency Operations Center, trying to get it in line. We’re doing daily briefings with the National Weather Service. It’s still kind of early for us but we need to be prepared -we need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Folks should take note and take this week to prepare. We got warning that this storm is coming. Be prepared early. If you live in an area that’s prone to flooding, be prepared, have an evacuation plan. We’ve had a lot of rain here lately. Our rivers and streams are full; the soil is saturated; potential for mudslides, rock slides, things of that nature to occur. Just know we’re here, and we’re always willing to help. If you have questions or concerns you can contact the Emergency Management Office at 304-799-3985 or 799-4624.

We asked Mike what the Center is doing to prepare for this hurricane’s arrival..

“Currently we are just monitoring the weather and we are doing briefings with the State and the Weather Service. They’re still uncertain of the exact path the storm. There’s a possibility the storm could come up over the Carolinas and stall out, which would result in a heavy amount of rain for us, but a hundred miles East or a hundred miles west would make a huge difference in the amount of rain we would get. We’re currently checking off supplies and making sure we have things ready to go if and when that they would be needed.”

Mike talked about some of the problems we could encounter here from Florence.

“With the high winds, one of the thinks we keep in mind is the amount of rain we’ve had this year. It will blow trees over very easy. As always we’re prepared. We have two shelter locations that we like to use as primary locations. One being the Marlinton Middle School and the other is the Green Bank Observatory. We’ll be talking to those folks and ensuring that those sites are ready to go if and when they are needed. Our shelter supplies will be inventoried this week to make sure we have everything in place for that. And, as we move on, all stakeholders involved will start having daily, if not multi-daily meetings to make sure we’re prepared for anything that might come our way. Floods are something that we handle quite often here in this county, so we know which roads seem to be problematic and which ones will hold up longer than others. “

We asked Mike what citizens living either in and out of known flood zones can do to prepare themselves and their families in case the situation is bad.

“Have a plan, if you are prone to flooding, move your animals inside or things that could float away or debris that could cause damages. We have a saying here ‘the first 72 is on you,’ so be prepared for 72 hours before getting assistance. If you live in Marlinton, as the water rises, Knapps Creek floods and Marlinton is flooded, you’re kind of stuck if you don’t leave. So, plan to get out early if you’re going to leave. We encourage you to go, although we can’t force you to go, but we encourage you to seek shelter, stay with relatives – if you’re not sure where to go, give us a call, and we’ll be glad to assist you in getting help in getting out. A lot of folks fail to leave because of their pets. They don’t want to leave their pets behind. Well, we can help with that, can make arrangements to get you somewhere with your pet and keep you guys together.

Mike talked about supplies you should stock up on now and gives us some other safety tips in the event things get bad.

These include stocking up on drinkable water and non-perishable foods that don’t have to be heated, as well as flashlights and batteries. He reminded us that you should never operate a generator inside or close to your house because of the carbon monoxide danger; to not touch downed utility wires; to not drive through flooded roadways, to avoid contact with flood waters as it will probably be contaminated with sewerage or chemicals and to wash or use hand sanitizer in case you do contact such waters. He also warned against eating contaminated or expired foods. Mike suggests that people sign up for free emergency internet alerts from his office at Nixle.com.   We at AMR Radio will also keep you apprised of the latest on Storm Florence.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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