Hanna spares area

Published 2:54 pm Wednesday, September 10, 2008

FRANKLIN—Despite passing directly over Southampton County, Tropical Storm Hanna left the area largely unscathed this weekend.

Fewer than 10 people wound up in area emergency shelters, and power outages were limited to isolated portions of Southampton and Isle of Wight counties and the City of Franklin. There were no reports of storm-related property damage.

The storm “didn’t create any emergency response situations,” said Franklin Fire and Rescue Chief Vince Holt.

By late Saturday afternoon, Hanna had moved north out of Virginia, and shelters were closed in Southampton and Isle of Wight. Power had been restored by Sunday to the 92,500 Hampton Roads-area Dominion Virginia Power customers who lost it, according to a company spokesman.

Area emergency planners had prepared for the storm for days as it approached the East Coast. Most of those preparations turned out to be unnecessary, as the storm failed to reach hurricane intensity before landfall and then quickly lost strength as it tracked to the north through the Carolinas.

In fact, the track took it to the west of where it had been expected, helping to reduce the expected rainfall over Franklin, Southampton and Isle of Wight.

Total rainfall measured just 1.7 inches at the Franklin airport, according to airport manager Jimmy Gray, who said peak wind gusts were measured at 30 knots.

In Southampton, there were six motor vehicle accident calls during the storm, but there were no injuries. According to Detective Cpl. Richard Morris, a spokesman for the Southampton Sheriff’s Office, there was no property damage that could be attributed to the storm. Morris said four to six people took advantage of the shelter that opened at Southampton High School. That shelter closed at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Things were similarly quiet in Isle of Wight County, where an emergency shelter at Windsor High School welcomed just one storm refugee, according to county spokesman Don Robertson.

Officials there, though, did not consider their preparations to have been in vain, he said.

“Quite honestly, it was a good training exercise for us. It was a chance for us to kick the wheels (on the emergency plan) and see what happened.”