Jones County Manager, Chairman talk about state of their communities
Jones County Commissioner Chairman Mike Haddock (left) and Jones County Manager Franky Howard discuss the aftermath of Hurricane Florence at a press conference/Photo by Linda Whittington
During a press conference held at Neuse Regional Library on Tuesday, Jones County Manager Franky Howard and Jones County Commissioner Chairman Mike Haddock were on hand to discuss the effects of Hurricane Florence on their communities.
According to the latest data from the National Weather Service, the Trent River is holding at 21.75, the second-highest reading ever, but could only be read as of 12:45 p.m. Saturday with the gauge underwater. A report from the NWS stated water levels have likely crested and should begin to decrease, dropping below major flood stage by midweek.
Howard said the county went through evacuation protocol before Florence hit, but more than 200 people needed to be rescued early Saturday morning as flooding worsened.
“We’ve been through a very trying time in Jones County (over) the past few days,” Howard said. “We’ve got citizens who lost everything they had — some of them didn’t see this coming. We were warned it would be Floyd-like, if not worse, and it’s definitely proven to be that. We’ve got several thousands of citizens displaced from their homes and in shelters throughout Eastern North Carolina. Over the past couple of days, we had to do emergency evacuations in the Trenton community and further down to Pollocksville.
“I think the waters have started receding in the Trenton community, however, the houses are still inundated with water. Pollocksville (flood waters) are slowly starting to go down from what we can tell — unfortunately, the technology we were trying to use to monitor the flood levels went down during the storm, so we were completely cut off from everything.”
Howard said it will take a long time for Jones County to regain any sense of normalcy.
“We’re still in response to the rescue mission,” Howard said. “When we get everybody safe, we’re going to turn our attention to recovering from this because it’s going to take a long time. Jones County has been hurt, a lot of people have been impacted and it’s going to take us years to get over this.”
Many of those evacuated were transported to either the Lenoir Community College shelter or shelters in Carteret County due to several highways in Jones County being inaccessible.
Haddock said lots of work is being done by rescue crews on the local and state level.
“My son-in-law is a volunteer fireman in Trenton,” Haddock said. “We rode out in the community on boats getting people out and (transporting them) to the Wyse Fork area where they (could then find shelter) at Lenoir Community College. We were not able to have (our own) shelter — we were not set up for a Category 4 storm. We were fortunate it was a Category 2 (and) after we recover we will have a shelter to help the people get back in. I know it’s going to be a while before you get in your house; I haven’t been to mine for five days.”
It’s undecided where the Jones County shelter will be located, although the Jones County Civic Center was cited as an option.
Haddock said Jones County residents would have to remain patient.
“We have help on the way, we will get through it and it is going to take time,” Haddock said. “Just keep the faith and keep praying.”