Local officials are preparing for the worst in the face of Hurricane Florence's landfall.
Interim Jackson County 911 Center director Montana Boggess and OES director Walter Smittle provided a report Wednesday to the Jackson County Commission on the preparations that have been completed.
Smittle prepared a memorandum outlining the plan, which Boggess read to commissioners.
Smittle said Florence's path of travel had not been determined as of Wednesday. However, there were two likely scenarios: One, the eye of the hurricane would pass over North Carolina, or two, it would pass over South Carolina.
If the eye passes over North Caroline, the impact likely would be limited to the mountainous terrain. Rainfall is expected but most would be confined to that area. However, if they eye passes over South Carolina, the impact on West Virginia would be significant, Smittle wrote in his report.
“How much flooding is expected is not available currently,” Boggess said. “With the saturated ground, any rainfall will result in flooding throughout the county.”
In preparing for the worst-case scenario, the following preparations have been made:
• Contact has been made with the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management regarding the availability of meals-ready-to-eat (MREs), water, cleaning supplies and emergency generators for public service districts. The inquiry included expected timetables for delivery if resources are requested.
• Contact has been made with the American Red Cross regarding cleaning supplies, MREs and water availability, as well as personnel for shelter management and a projected timetable for a response if help is needed.
• Emails have been sent to all fire departments regarding their response to potential swift water rescue, evacuation and use of their facilities as shelters.
• Smittle met with Jackson County Schools Superintendent Blaine Hess and Dr. K. Burdette regarding school closures, if required, and the use of facilities as shelters. The Ravenswood Middle School gymnasium and Ripley High School Annex multi-purpose facility are the designated locations. Hess advised the school system would endeavor to assist if the schools are closed.
• Smittle met with Wendy Staats of the Jackson County Health Department. The Medical Reserve Corps is on standby if needed. The Health Department will provide tetanus shots for first responders if necessary.
• Smittle and Boggess met to discuss response logistics. Telecommunicators will receive calls and record flood information on prepared forms and submit the completed forms for regionalization of requests to be turned into the DHSEM.
• Smittle met with Troy Bain of Jackson County Emergency Medical Services to discuss a possible scenario response to requests for oxygen supplies if there is a power failure.
• Smittle asked the county commission to authorize the use of the Jackson County Junior Fairgrounds building next to the kitchen for stockpiling resources for distribution, including water, cleaning supplies, MREs and other items. The use of this facility will be a single site for distribution to the citizens as needed.
The severity of the weather will dictate the length of time needed to disperse supplies. Hopefully, this will not be needed, distribution of supplies will be limited and local fire departments can be designated as distribution sites.
• If the flooding is severe and debris removal is required, the county commission will need to identify a central point for collection of debris and its removal to a landfill certified to receive flood debris.
• Appalachian Power's most recent update (as of this writing) appeared to be based on the first scenario, with the hurricane passing over North Carolina.
Smittle noted that before resources from the state, such as the Army National Guard, can be obtained, there must be a state of an emergency declaration by Gov. Jim Justice.