The new forecast for Hurricane Florence has lessened the projected impact on Wilson, but officials are urging residents not to breathe a sigh of relief yet.
Florence is set to make landfall Friday morning as a Category 3 storm on the coast between North Carolina and South Carolina, but officials said it is likely the storm will stall after landfall and stay in the region until Sunday or Monday.
“Tropical storm force winds will extend up to 175 miles,” according to a release from the city of Wilson. “Wilson County is still under a tropical storm watch and is predicted to have heavy rains and high winds. Rainfall projections are now estimated at 6 to 10 inches.”
While the rainfall is less than initially predicted, it is still significant, especially when combined with the tropical storm-force winds. As such, crews have been hard at work to prepare.
Public works crews are cleaning catch basins, clearing debris from streets and assembling sandbags. All trash and recycling routes for Thursday and Friday will be collected today with residents urged to take carts from the street Wednesday evening. Water has been released at Lake Wilson and Buckhorn Reservoir to lower the water level, and crews put sandbags around equipment at Wiggins Mill and other pump stations prone to flooding.
Utility crews from Texas will assist Wilson Energy crews to restore power. Officials are urging residents to sign up for text notifications of outages at www.wilsonnc.org/outage/, where information is also available about current outages. Customers also can download the Fix-It Wilson app to report outages and minimize the calls to the city’s Unified Communications Center, which also handles emergency communication, dispatch for city crews and Greenlight Community Broadband issues.
Greenlight crews and contractors are on standby to respond to issues. Officials said should a broadband outage occur, the city prioritizes public safety and utility crews first with an emphasis on radio communications and other core public safety systems. Once restored, crews will focus on automated meter infrastructure for utilities to support power restoration. Greenlight outages can be reported by calling 252-399-2200 and selecting options 3-2-2.
Wilson Fire/Rescue Services and the Wilson Police Department have stepped up staffing levels with staging in place for water rescues, evacuations and other incidents. A pre-evacuation canvass also was conducted in many flood-prone areas.