Jones County faces long road to recovery
Jason Jarman’s house in Trenton is seen from a boat today. He says the flood waters were 4-6 feet higher yesterday and “Our worst fear was confirmed today. We have lost our house and everything in it to the flood. But like everyone else we will get through this.” Submitted photo by Jason Jarman.
Jones County Manager Franky Howard estimates the number of Jones County residents displaced by Hurricane Florence to be over a thousand.
"Power is beginning to be restored in certain parts of the county," Howard said. "But it's a slow process. There are lots of trees and power lines down. Crews are working in areas they can get to, but parts of the county are isolated due to flood waters."
"The Pollocksville area along the Trent River was inundated with water this morning," said Jones County Emergency Management Director Eric Merritt on Monday. "Several people in that area decided to evacuate this morning. We also have major power, electrical and cell phone outages."
Howard said Trenton was completely isolated for several hours due to flooding on NC 58 and NC 41.
"We've slowly started to build water pressure back up throughout the county by getting the wells back online," Howard said on Monday. "I'd say 75% of the county is still without power."
Howard is confident the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be offering assistance going forward.
"There's been some discussion about a FEMA declaration for Jones County," Howard said. "We've been in the rescue phase, and the next step would be recovery, which is where FEMA comes in. I've been assured that there's no doubt Jones County will be declared - for several areas - (disaster) declarations through FEMA."
Howard said he would be working with state officials to set up a mass shelter location for people who cannot return to their homes. Based on estimates, such a shelter would need to accommodate 500 or more.
At 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18, Jones County officials will hold a press conference at the Neuse Regional Library in Kinston. Scheduled to appear are Jones County Manager Franky Howard, Jones County Commissioner Mike Haddock, and Jones County Sheriff Danny Heath (or a JCSO spokesman).
According to a prepared release, the press conference is being held in Lenoir County due to travel conditions in Jones County being too hazardous for media to navigate.
"We've had a lot of damage in Jones County," Howard said. "Our citizens have been hit hard. It's going to take a long time to recover from this."