Thursday, February 29, 2024

Carolina Beach issues a state of emergency

Carolina Beach employees checking lights on flood barricades Thursday morning ahead of Hurricane Matthew's arrival. Photo by Hannah Leyva.
Carolina Beach employees checking lights on flood barricades on Canal Drive Thursday morning ahead of Hurricane Matthew’s arrival. (Photo by Hannah Leyva.)

CAROLINA BEACH — A state of emergency has been issued for Carolina Beach ahead of Hurricane Matthew’s expected arrival this weekend.

Due to the projected track of the storm, officials have declared a state of emergency for the town effective noon Thursday.

The town’s state of emergency means other town employees will also be on rotating 12-hour shifts beginning Friday and extending through the duration of the storm, according to Parvin. They will have one employee available to answer the town’s main phone line, (910) 458-2999, which residents can call with any non-emergency issues or questions.

While variable message signs, which inform drivers of road closures, are not an option for this storm due to the strong winds expected, the town will also be using its Facebook, Twitter and website to keep residents informed about road closures, evacuations, and other storm-related updates.

The biggest concern for the town is flooding, particularly on the town’s north end and near Carolina Beach Lake, due to heavy rainfall expected from Matthew. Streets in those areas are expected to close once the storm’s impacts begin.

“As of last night, Carolina Beach was expecting four to eight inches of rain,” Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin said. “This morning, that changed to 10 to 12 inches of rain. That’s a significant amount of rainfall.”

According to Gil DuBois, the town’s director of operations, all the retention ponds have been pumped down, and the machines at Carolina Beach Lake are ready to go. The town also has alternate pumps on standby in case extras are needed or some break down.

“If we get 12 inches of rain over three days, we can handle that,” DuBois said. “But if it comes in just a couple of hours, then that’s a different story.”

The problem, said DuBois, is the ground saturation is already at 150 to 175 percent due to lots of recent rain.

“There’s no where else for the water to go,” said DuBois.

Operations employees will start on rotating shifts starting 7 a.m. Friday until at least noon on Monday to deal with any stormwater issues, according to DuBois.

No evacuations have been issued as of yet, though a voluntary one could be issued for the town’s north end.

“We look at a combination of flooding, tides and wind along with the SLOSH model, to determine evacuations,” Parvin said, referring to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes computerized model that estimates storm surge probabilities. “There’s no specific criteria, but if there are going to be significant concerns for our residents, then we’ll make that decision to evacuate.”

The decision to evacuate parts of Carolina Beach can be made by either the town or New Hanover County, Parvin said. However, the decision to keep Snow’s Cut Bridge, the only way for vehicles to drive onto Pleasure Island, lies solely with the town. According to Parvin, the bridge will only be closed if sustained winds are 45 mph or greater.

There is no trash pickup scheduled for the rest of the week; however, Waste Industries workers will be securing trash bins to homes along Canal Drive, Carolina Beach Avenue North and Carolina Beach Avenue South on Thursday. Residents are being advised that workers will be going onto private property to do this. On Friday, workers will be moving all commercial dumpsters on those streets to a location on Dow Road.

Monday and Tuesday’s trash pickup schedules are pending depending on the storm’s impacts.

The declaration allows the town to make use of resources to help deal with preparation and any potential impacts from the storm. They also set a $50,000 emergency budget. The town can apply for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency following the storm.

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