Despite forecasts that had local officials fearful, Surry County escaped major flooding and storm damage, according to John Shelton, emergency services director. Saturday, first responders mostly dealt with trees that had fallen across the county.
Nearly 50 officials from various agencies throughout Surry County met Friday in preparation for the heavy rain and wind that was expected to hit the area over the weekend, due to Hurricane Joaquin.
Gov. Pat McCroy signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency at the North Carolina Emergency Operations Center early Friday morning. “We’re hoping for the best, but hope is not preparation nor is it a plan,” McCrory said at the press conference. “I’ve ordered all state agencies to begin preparation for the severe weather, particularly flooding, that is going hit just about every corner of the state during the next few days.”
For the most part, at least locally, most of the preparations were not needed.
The storm was expected to bring 5-10 inches of rain throughout the weekend to the region, according to the forecast given Thursday afternoon. The county’s public works department inspected all storm sewer drains for obstructions and emergency services had strike teams and on stand by to be called to different parts of the state if needed, according to Shelton.
“Things didn’t transpire as bad as we thought, here or on the coast,” he said, explaining the teams were not needed in any other part of the state.
Also, the county had state forestry personnel on stand-by, along with additional county employees,but the storm seemed to mostly miss Surry County.
Duke Energy reported 24,000 customers without power in the North Carolina service region Saturday morning, by 3:30 p.m. 12,000 of those customers power was restored. “We have not had any major system wide issues. Everything has been weather related,” said Jennifer Zajac, spokeswoman for Duke Energy.
The weather conditions, heavy rainfall and moderate wind gusts seemed to have created the perfect situations for downed trees and power lines. Zajac and Shelton both said that their crews have been able to respond quickly and safely to all calls.
Area parks were also closed due to the high levels of water and risks of tree falling. Stewarts Creek however was the only water way to overflow its banks, said Shelton.
A minor rock slide, near Lowgap on NC Highway 89 near NC-18, shut down Route 89 for a majority of the morning. Traffic was detoured around using Highway 103, until Department of Transportation officials could could clean up the roadway. According to information relayed to Surry Dispatch, an employee was able to shovel the debris out of the roadway. Spokeswoman Jordan Ashley for the transportation department said, “The incident was very minor, and did not affect traffic.”
Residents seemed to be relieved that the forecast was incorrect and little damage resulted from the storm. “I’m glad to see the sunshine, I think we got about 3 inches of rain last night and this morning, but we needed it,” said A.G. Southern.
Surry County seemed to have all but shutdown, with little traffic on the roads and all weekend events such as the Sonker Festival, Relay for Life and others called off or rescheduled.
Reach Eva Queen at (336) 415-4739 or on Twitter @MtAiryNewsEva.