Monday, July 22, 2024

Gov. Cooper: Significant power outages expected

The ice storm warning in southeastern North Carolina will begin midnight Friday and continue through Saturday

N.C. Governor Roy Cooper gave a press conference urging residents in the southeastern counties affected by the winter storm to prepare now ahead of impending sleet Friday night. (Courtesy Governor Roy Cooper)

In a press briefing about the winter storm approaching eastern North Carolina Friday, Governor Roy Cooper urged all residents in affected areas — including the tri-county region — to get supplies and prepare now.

“We expect significant power outages from the storm in our southeastern counties, including the cities of Wilmington, Jacksonville and New Bern,” Cooper said.

READ MORE: Winter storm 2022 updates, closings

The governor declared a state of emergency less than 24 hours ago ahead of the ice storm, the second one that has affected North Carolina in a week. Wherein the western and central part of the state took the brunt last weekend, the eastern counties will be most affected Friday and Saturday, Cooper said.

“A quarter inch or more of ice is expected on trees and power lines — and that’s a recipe for power outages unfortunately,” he said.

Public safety secretary Eddie Buffaloe agreed the current forecast — a sleet and rain mixture with abnormally cold temperatures — could lead to significant outages, possibly lasting multiple days. Rain will begin to fall in southeastern North Carolina Friday at midnight, turn to freezing rain by Friday afternoon, with a mix of sleet and possibly snow, and continue through Saturday, with the system expected to move out by noon.

To prepare, the State Emergency Response Team has coordinated with the private sector and contractors to ensure more resources and crews will be on hand to help, especially utility companies to restore power.

“Our human services staff are working to support preparations for any shelters or warming centers that might need to be opened,” Buffaloe continued. “We’re paying particular attention for portions of our critical infrastructure, such as our licensed health care facilities, with challenges due to any power outages.”

Activated are 114 National Guardsman to help with transportation needs and debris management. The transportation department has been brining state-owned roads, working through nearly 1 million gallons of brine — a salt and water mixture to elevate the temperature so accumulation doesn’t freeze on asphalt.

NCDOT secretary Eric Boyette said the state has restocked the brine to reapply as needed, in an effort to prevent refreezing and black ice. There was concern the brine may wash off as rain will come first Friday, ahead of sleet and snow.

“Again, when the weather hits, it’s best to stay home,” Boyette iterated.

Highway patrols have increased to help motorists in need of navigating roads during the storm. The governor said thousands of calls came in from last weekend’s storm. Col. Freddy Johnson, commander of North Carolina Highway Patrol, made it clear: “Only those who must drive should be on the roadways in the affected areas as the storm arrives.”

“That will make it easier for our crews and emergency responders to do their jobs,” Boyette added.

The transportation secretary has 700 employees and contract crews and 300 trucks and graders working currently. Crews are prepared to be on the clock through “a very long weekend,” Boyette added, noting, like other industries, Covid-19 has also affected staffing at the state department. However, the state emergency team will be able to pull from crews in the western part of the state who also are still working to clear snow from last weekend.

“We may not be able to respond in your area as quickly as we have in the past,” Boyette said, “but, rest assured, we will respond and work hard to get our roads clear as soon as possible. Be patient and be prepared to hunker down when winter weather hits.”

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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