Lenoir County officials reflect on Florence lessons
Helicopter pilots from Raleigh escort medical supplies for MedSource Pharmacy and Piggly Wiggly locations in Pender County. Submitted photo.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, Kinston and Lenoir County officials have learned plenty for the next one.
Lenoir County Emergency Management Services Director Roger Dail said there were positive and negative takeaways from the way Florence was handled, but the area’s first responders were great in their efforts throughout the event.
“When we look at the response for a hurricane, we do a hot wash — basically going over what went well and what we can improve upon,” Dail said. “One of the biggest things we needed to improve upon as administrators was the sharing of accurate information and what we’re looking at to combat that is a program where every first responder can see an instant action plan.
“Overall, our first responders were amazing. We couldn’t ask for a better effort. They were very organized throughout the duration of the storm.”
Kinston Fire Chief Don Crawford said the unpredictability of natural disasters are troublesome, but the team was able to find stronger methods to assist the masses.
“We experience something different through every storm,” Crawford said. “There are hazards that affected areas that never had issues — during Hurricane Florence some places had flash flooding that never saw it during Matthew. We look at forecasts of rain and wind, and even though you see things as they start to happen, you don’t know what to expect as far as damage.
“We did set up our field incident management team a little differently, finding out that some things worked better within the structure. Not that our previous storms weren’t managed properly — we learn through every event to assign resources to help places most impacted.”
There were issues trying to get medicine across the area as well. MedSource Pharmacy Operations Manager Justin Ange said it took the permission of numerous government agencies, but members were able to use a helicopter to Burgaw in order to serve customers in areas nearly impossible to drive in.
“It was surreal when you think about the type of damage the hurricane and flooding caused,” Ange said. “You’ve got neighbors you’re accustomed to seeing having their homes destroyed and we’re dropping off products by helicopter. I remember flying ever Chinquapin and seeing it underwater, watching parts of I-40 without cars.
“When you think of that highway, you picture traffic and road rage, but without it you almost feel like you have no idea where you’re at.”
Video taken by Justin Ange, MedSource Pharmacy, delivering much-needed medical supplies to Piggly Wiggly/Value Rx locations in eastern NC, which shows I-40 under water. Click the pictures below to enlarge.