Windsor declares local emergency ahead of Florence

Published 11:17 pm Tuesday, September 11, 2018


Town Manager Michael Stallings, on Tuesday at roughly 8 p.m., declared a state of local emergency for Windsor, which was immediately ratified by the members of the Town Council.

The declaration will allow the town to purchase any emergency supplies it will need before and during the arrival of Hurricane Florence, which is expected to make landfall along the coast of North Carolina sometime on Thursday.

“It frees us from procurement laws,” Stallings explained. “If we have something catastrophic that requires us to make a purchase that would normally require council approval, it will allow us to do that, since we may not be able to do that.”

Mayor Carita Richardson added that the last time the town declared a state of local emergency in preparation for a hurricane, it received a lot of rain and 85 mph winds. The declaration allowed the town to receive assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help remove downed trees.

Stallings said that the current declaration would again allow for FEMA support if the storm is severe enough to warrant such support. However, he said that he expects the town and surrounding area to receive between 10 and 15 inches of rainfall and 40 mph winds.

“Our biggest concern is downed power lines and trees,” he said.

Councilman Walter Bernacki, speaking from his experience as a volunteer firefighter, also advised residents per a conversation he had with the chief of Windsor’s Volunteer Fire Department, to assume that any downed power lines are live.

When asked by Councilman Tony Ambrose under what conditions the VFD would not be able to reach residents, Bernacki responded that if wind speeds are between 40 to 50 mph, chances are they could not safely get a ladder up to take care of a downed tree. He explained that saving lives was the department’s top priority, and that if its volunteers got into an accident themselves, it would prevent them from assisting others.