City of Kinston staff, volunteers continue to work
Jayden McKinney, 6, transports materials from the Nature Center to Ellis Planetarium Saturday at the Neuseway Nature Park. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News
As Florence slowly starts to make its way out of the area, the actions to assist others have been enhanced.
Kinston City Manager Tony Sears said there have been plenty of additional efforts launched toward getting power restored since wind gusts have subsided.
“We’re still sitting around 1,200 to 1,300 without power,” Sears “That number’s coming down now that we’re able to work safely — the wind gusts are down and the flash flooding we were dealing with last night is down. We should be able to get that number drastically reduced by this evening and we think in 24 hours, minus everybody who may have an individual home issue, we should be able to get everybody back on.”
Across the area, volunteers have also stepped up to help businesses in need. At the Neuseway Nature Center, Kristen Joyner was among a group assisting in transporting materials to higher grounds.
“They give back to us,” Joyner said. “They have the park, the planetarium and nature center for our 6-year old son, so I figured we need to give back to them.”
Joyner’s son, Jayden McKinney, said he wanted to help because he appreciates the area.
“I feel like the park is fun for kids and grownups; they can come out here to fish,” McKinney said.
Joyner said she hopes the community will continue to bond during this tough time.
“It’s been pretty bad,” Joyner said. “The creek on (Hwy) 258 South going toward Woodington, I haven’t seen it like that before. A lot of places are flooding now that haven’t flooded before, so it is a little scary. People just went through Hurricane Matthew (two years ago) and now we’ve got this.
“I hope that everyone comes together like they did for Matthew and help clean up. I also hope we never have to go through this again. I pray for everyone’s safety, their homes and if you have to go, get your pets out of harm’s way.”
Volunteers weren’t able to stay long at the park due to the threat of flooding from the Neuse River. Ellis Planetarium director Sarah Bartlett said the primary concern was safety, but appreciated everyone who came out.
“We’re definitely thankful for the volunteers, but I’m glad that they’re safe,” Bartlett said. “We’re also thankful for all the help from the city and staff — they’ve gone above and beyond. (The river) is still running relatively low for us, but it is rising and I’m glad we’ll be out of here in time.”
Sears said the city will do its part to recover from Florence.
“It’s what Kinston and Lenoir County has always done and will always continue to do,” Sears said. “Mother Nature can come as often as she wants — we’ll be here when she leaves and we’ll always rebuild from what she’s done.”