Emergency shelters in Lenoir County still have plenty of room
Lenoir County Emergency Services are making necessary preparations for Hurricane Florence and the calls have been pouring in.
"The majority of the calls have been about shelter openings," Deputy Director Jerri King said. "We have calls concerning the weather (and) we currently are predicted to have winds of 40 to 50 miles per hour sustained with 60-mile per hour gusts and that could be for about 36 hours (with) 10 to 15 inches of rain."
The three shelters in Lenoir County -- North Lenoir, South Lenoir, and Lenoir Community College -- opened up at 7 a.m. and require identification to secure a spot. Lenoir County DSS director Jeff Harrison said if there are residents with special needs, they should bring necessary materials because there won't be any on site.
"Bring your medication with you," Harrison said. "If you are on oxygen, please make sure when you come to the shelter you bring your additional oxygen supplies because we have no resources (to obtain) prescriptions and/or oxygen."
The shelters will be open as long as necessary and there is still plenty of room.
"We're hoping it's a quick in and out as far as emergency shelters, but if you're in a home situation where you don't feel safe with the storm, certainly look toward coming out now," Harrison said. "We've got plenty of room in the shelters -- (as of 1 p.m.) we have 279 residents in all three shelters and expect the number to increase drastically over the next few hours.
"We want our citizens to be safe. If you wait till the height of the storm to start making that decision to move to the shelter, not only are you putting yourself in danger, you're going to put the lives of our first responders in danger or anyone else who might be on the highways. The thing we've been saying for a week now is preparation and safety. Now's the time to put those two together and act upon them."
King said the Lenoir County Emergency Operation System will continue to field the calls of concerned citizens. The number for the EOS is 252-559-1911.
"They should call that number for any questions pertaining to weather, road closures, and shelter. If they have an emergency, they can still dial 911 but anything that is a non-emergency in nature (they can call us.)"
As for pets, Lenoir County Cooperative Extension director Tammy Kelly said the Companion Animal Shelter has received about 50 animals as of 3 p.m.
“Please remember to bring your pet food, cage or crate, leash, any medication and know that you are responsible for feeding, walking and medicating your pets,” Kelly said. “You must provide a valid contact number and you must check into the people shelter before you can check in your pet. You will not be allowed to check in your pet until you have proof of shelter registration. Anyone who has checked in their animal and left the shelter is subject to having your pet put up for adoption.”
With flash flooding expected to mirror the levels of Hurricane Matthew and wind strength of Irene, Lenoir County Public Information Officer Bryan Hanks said residents should not take the storm lightly.
“They should be prepared for a very serious weather event in Kinston and Lenoir County,” Hanks said. “At this point, they should hunker down, stay in their homes and if there are any emergencies, stay in touch with emergency services.”