NHC Board of Commissioners approves plans for handling future hurricanes

NHC Board of Commissioners approves plans for handling future hurricanes

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Making emergency plans for the next hurricane to hit southeastern North Carolina does not have to wait until the storm starts churning offshore.

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners adopted the Hurricane Florence Long-Term Recovery Plan and shared results from its Hurricane Florence After Action Plan at its meeting Monday night. Both are aimed at helping people be better prepared for natural disasters like Hurricane Florence, which hit in September 2018.

Surveys were given to 185 employees, who were asked to share their thoughts on the county’s response to Florence.

Communication, operations, resources and staffing were the main areas of concern.

Communication

An organizational chart for the emergency operations center was proposed so employees know the chain of command. Additional pre-storm communication and using community partners for that purpose were also mentioned.

Operations

The operations department decided to develop and document transportation plans since I-40 and I-95 could be shut down during a hurricane. Reinforcing buildings and integrating incident management teams were also mentioned.

Resources

The board said it wants to plan for the use of fuel and other resources before a storm hits, including having an inventory of assets in order to know what heavy machinery can be used. A fuel farm or additional fuel supply is also needed.

“I think the thing we learned most was making sure we have fuel,” NHC Board of Commissioners Chairman Jonathan Barfield Jr. said. "Not having access to fuel was a problem for many, and many gas stations running out of gas made fuel a premium at that point. "

Staffing

Two emergency management staff positions — a 911 director and an EOC web director — will be added. The board stressed the need for support staff to provide online communication during an emergency, and the county plans on more FEMA and role-based training. Mental health, trauma support and Red Cross shelter training is planned as well.

Cell tower

Commissioners approved a conditional use permit request for a 154-foot telecommunications tower in the 4500 block of South College Road.

Some neighbors spoke out against it, citing potential health concerns and impact on property values.

Those in support said the tower would improve cell phone signal strength in that part of the county for Verizon and possibly US Cellular customers.

The nearest residence is 600 feet from the base of the tower, which would have a 25-foot landscape buffer. Wax myrtles are also expected to help cover the site.

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