Florence soaks scheduled events

Published 3:59 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Although updated meteorological models forecast Hurricane Florence to trek farther south after making landfall, Stanly County continues to brace for the worse.

Along with a revised path caused by an encroaching high pressure from the northwest, Florence is now projected to stall once it reaches landfall. It is forecast to pummel the Carolina coastline with catastrophic flooding and life-threatening effects.

Both Carolinas are under a state emergency, with mandatory evacuations for vulnerable coastal areas.

“The waves and wind in this storm may be like nothing you have ever seen,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a press release. “Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don’t bet your life on riding out this monster.”

Extreme rain, wind and storm surge is projected to pound the coastline before the category 4 hurricane crawls inland across South Carolina near the North Carolina border.

Forecasters also believe the storm will move slower across land than first projected, bringing heavy wind and dumping significant rainfall, or as much as 20 to 30 inches. Rivers and low-lying areas are expected to flood well inland from the coast.

“We can’t expect this storm to blow over in a matter of hours,” Cooper added. “Remember you need to have enough supplies for several days.”

Regardless of the new forecasts, local residents should still experience strong winds and heavy rain from the hurricane’s outer bands. Consequently, they should still plan accordingly and error on the side of caution.

Residents have already been stocking up on supplies, including enough food and gasoline to last for several days. Because of a hurried rush before the storm, many grocer shelves have been left bare and gas stations out of fuel.

Area schools as well as other community buildings, like the Stanly County Senior Center and local churches, are typically used as emergency shelters, according to Brian T. Simpson, director of Stanly County Emergency Services.

“Currently, we are not opening anything pre-storm, but our shelter teams and associated partners are ready to deploy if needed,” Simpson said.

Effective at noon Friday, the city of Albemarle will be under a state of emergency. Per the order, citizens are prohibited from entering any known or existing flood-prone or high-water areas. A second restriction states that no one shall interfere with any city, state, federal officials or work crew involved in the restoration of services or protection of the public resulting from the impact of Hurricane Florence.

On Thursday the town of Norwood also declared an emergency so local officials could focus on vulnerable sites that could likely flood and pose problems to infrastructure.

Numerous local organizations are choosing to side with safety with a slew of area cancellations prior to the storm’s arrival. Most are sticking with closures based on the storm’s original forecasted arrival to encourage proactive planning. However, much of the storm’s wrath might not hit until later, further threatening Monday’s activities.

Cancellations and closures

• Stanly County Schools will close at 11:30 a.m. Thursday and remain closed Friday.

• Gray Stone Day School is also closing early Thursday, noon for the middle school and 12:30 p.m. for the high school. There will be no school Friday.

• Both Pfeiffer University and Stanly Community College have canceled classes in anticipation of Florence.

Pfeiffer canceled all on-campus classes as of Wednesday evening and for the remainder of the week as well as Monday. All classes were moved to online-only status. Students will be responsible for keeping up with coursework remotely whenever possible. A decision will be made Monday about operations for Tuesday.

• Sunday’s scheduled start of Pfeiffer’s Events Plus Speaker Series, featuring Don Marcari, has been postponed until Nov. 11.

• SCC announced class cancellations for Thursday and Friday. Instead, the 12-week session will begin Tuesday.

SCC classes are set to resume Monday; however, an announcement will be made Sunday afternoon regarding plans for Monday.

A limited staff will be available until noon Thursday to distribute financial aid checks, said SCC President John Enamait.

Other scheduled changes include:

• Morrow Mountain State Park closed at 5 p.m. Wednesday. It will remain closed at least through Sunday.

• Saturday’s Party in the Park in Richfield has been canceled.

The story will continue to be updated as more closures and storm-related decisions become available

Contact Ritchie Starnes at 704-754-5076 or ritchie.starnes@stanlynewspress.com.