Category Archives: WEATHER
Neuse River at Kinston continues rise
KINSTON – Dreaded storm surge and vicious hurricane-force winds did not wreak the havoc. This time horrific damage and at least 19 deaths are coming belatedly from North Carolina’s swollen river basins – with the normally placid Lumber River being perhaps the worst culprit.
The Neuse River near Kinston has yet to crest where officials expect to see flooding 28 feet above normal levels – toppling the record set by 1999 flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd.
Throughout the state’s coastal flatlands, people continue to face flood threats. Many are still without power. Road access to vital services is limited or non-existent. Many counties in the lower elevations of eastern North Carolina river basins have officially been declared Disaster Areas.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, better known as FEMA, now lists Beaufort, Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Edgecombe, Hoke, Lenoir, Nash, Pitt, and Robeson counties, but stresses an important caveat:
Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
Individuals, including homeowners, renters, and business owners, in the above designated counties, may register for assistance online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice; operators are standing by to assist survivors in multiple languages.
Officials also cautioned flood victims to be wary of scams.
Lisa Respess Williams, an emergency services specialist with Beaufort County Emergency Management, said Wednesday:
“We were informed this morning that there is a rumor on the Internet in regards to individuals needing to contact their Utility Company to request a statement verifying that they had lost power so they can come to the Department of Social Services to request food vouchers. This is not the case. No one has to provide verification that their power was out in order to receive replacement benefits for individuals that were already receiving Food and Nutrition Services.”
Colleen M. Roberts | Public Information Officer
NEW BERN — Although the forecast track for hurricane Matthew remains uncertain, the City of New Bern is taking steps now to prepare and is encouraging residents to do the same. National Hurricane Center meteorologists say the storm could pose a threat to the United States by week’s end, but forecast models vary widely as to where or if the hurricane will make landfall.
“We will know more about the track of the storm in the next 24-48 hours, but we are using this valuable time to get staff, equipment and storm supplies in place and ready to go should we need them,” said City Manager Mark Stephens. City management staff met this morning to discuss possible scenarios and storm impacts from hurricane Matthew as well as current preparations.
The City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Highway 55 will be set up on Wednesday and will remain on standby for mobilization ahead of the storm. Management staff are scheduling supplemental and on-call staff for week’s end and throughout the weekend. Staff are checking supplies at the city warehouse on Kale Road, making sure needs can be met for mitigating power outages, water and sewer emergencies, and debris removal. The Department of Public Utilities has mutual aid agreements in place should the City require additional help to restore power quickly and efficiently. Staff will begin topping off fuel in emergency response vehicles and equipment over the next couple of days.
“This will be a challenging week given that we are preparing for Mumfest at the same time,” said Mr. Stephens. “At some point, we will switch solely to hurricane preparations if the storm is forecast to significantly impact New Bern.”
The City’s stormwater pumps located at Jack Smith Creek and East Rose Street will begin operating soon in an effort to increase floodwater capacity ahead of hurricane Matthew. During storms, these pumps come on automatically as water levels rise.
“We are encouraging residents to prepare now in the event of this storm,” said City of New Bern Fire-Rescue Chief Bobby Boyd. “Make sure disaster kits are stocked and ready, have food and water supplies for each member of the family to last several days, have first aid supplies and medications handy as well as batteries, flashlights and a weather radio.”
If you are a city customer and you lose power, report it by using our website portal at www.NewBern-NC.org. “Report a Power, Water, or Sewer Emergency” is located right on the homepage. Or, call us at (252)636-4070. You do not need to speak to an operator. Leave a detailed message with your address, type of emergency, and contact info and an operator will call you back to ensure restoration.
Residents are strongly encouraged to subscribe to the City’s emergency alert system, CodeRED. It’s free and alerts subscribers to emergencies within the community through text messaging, emails, or phone calls. You can sign up on the city website or download the CodeRED app to your smartphone.
VANDEMERE – A late June start-back for this faith-based camp seemed much closer to reality Wednesday, after a flurry of activity throughout the day.
Under the wistful / apprehensive gazes of Camp Vandemere board member Ken Hill and Camp Director Rick Price, crews and a massive crane began the careful positioning of nine 70-feet long modular units atop tall pilings on the banks of windy Bay River.
By the end of the day, the girls dorm and the boys dorm – each capable of accommodating up to 70 campers – were mostly in place, and the modular units that will form the Kitchen / Dining Hall were scheduled for placement Thursday.
Utilities, decks and steps, and A-frame roofs must still be tackled. However, for the first time in quite a while, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irene in August 2011 had become more of a fuzzy memory.
BAYBORO – Like a cavalry to the rescue, a dozen massive bucket trucks and more than 20 heavily clothed linemen pulled into the parking lot of Fred A. Anderson Elementary School shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Their uniforms: White hard hats and fluorescent green safety vests. Their mission: Restore electricity to thousands in numerous eastern North Carolina counties.
Employed by Utility Line Construction Services of Willow Grove, Penn., this small army of workers, deployed from Durham, will be directed by officials with Duke Progress Energy, who possess the data and locations of numerous power outages across the region.
Joe Jackson, a B-Lineman, was generally upbeat, but quickly nodded when asked if he expected to work most of a cold winter night. Over the next 12-plus hours, Jackson and his counterparts will head first into those areas hardest hit by sleet and freezing rain, which began late Monday night and continued into much of Tuesday.
Duke Progress Energy officials were cautiously optimistic – hopeful that widespread repairs would go smoothly, and that a great many households would be back up and running before dawn.
By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer
NORTH CAROLINA – The state typically gets 80 percent of its hurricanes and tropical storms during the months of August, September, and October, making Arthur’s expected July 4th appearance somewhat of an aberration. In recent years, the earliest of named storms arrived May 7, 2007, when Andrea showed up. Way back in 1925, weather archives reveal that an unnamed tropical storm moved across the Outer Banks on Dec. 2, 1925.
By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer
REELSBORO – Broken and dismantled mailboxes often occur when the state’s snowplows work their magic, as more than a few eastern North Carolina homeowners discovered last Friday morning. And, here in this part of the county where residents in Reelsboro and Olympia have those infernal New Bern postal addresses, all undelivered mail is returned and held at the main New Bern Post Office – an expensive and time-consuming roundtrip to the big city!
One little known fact is that a rather tedious procedure exists for those who might seek recompense for mailbox damages.
“I understand that these things happen,” said one afflicted resident, “but what I do not
understand is the difficulty I’m having getting information from DOT about repair/replacement. I’ve been getting a real run-around, told I have to fill out a ‘tort’ form, which I did, but no one is able to tell me what happens now or when.”
If by chance your mailbox is still lying on the ground, here are some phone numbers you might want to try for various operatives with the North Carolina Department of Transportation:
Alvie Lee, Pamlico County maintenance facility: 745-3731. Gordy Eure, (252) 514-4731. Preston Hunter, (252) 439-2800. Reed Smith, (252) 514-4716.
If you do call, please start the conversation with a compliment for the darn good job these folks did in clearing the roads. Then, feel free to mention your damaged mail receptacle!
By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer
VANDEMERE – Elected officials gave their approval Monday night for a much bigger Camp Vandemere, subject to several conditions meant to moderate any disruptive impacts on this small waterfront community. The Baptist-sponsored summertime destination – a fixture in the town since the mid-1960s — was devastated by Hurricane Irene, which struck two years ago. The camp’s executive director, Rick Price, said construction will begin soon on a Kitchen / Dining Hall facility, to be built 15 feet above ground, a design meant to withstand future storms. Plans also call for two dormitories. Price said the overall project is expected to cost more than $700,000, with a hoped-for completion date by June of 2014.
By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer
GRANTSBORO – Piggly Wiggly’s new Flavor Burst soft serve ice cream triggered plenty of smiles Saturday as grocery store veteran Doug Phillips stayed busy for much of the afternoon dishing out free samples!
Yes, of course, free is always fun!
But the really big grins came as folks nodded approval while savoring their frozen treats!
“Flavor Burst is really thick ice cream, and the flavors are infused,” explained Phillips. “You’re not getting a lot of air bubbles like you’ll see at some of the other places.”
Of the nine available flavors – strawberry, chocolate, and butterscotch proved popular! However, the Flavor Burst taste that reigned supreme this day was BUTTER PECAN – nothing else even came close. The high-tech machine can also mix up to three at a time, yielding a veritable rainbow of ‘Tastefully Twisted’ flavors – typically captured in a cone or cup!
Phillips also manages Hunt Brothers Pizza for Piggly Wiggly. He seemed to genuinely enjoy the day’s hectic pace. People politely lined up but they seldom waited long. Flavor Burst is available at the store’s new drive-up window – no need to call ahead! And, look for it inside on the very first aisle.
“That’s right,” chuckled Phillips, as they day’s temperatures slowly climbed. “Flavor Burst makes the inside of Piggly Wiggly the coolest place in Pamlico County.”
Click on image to enlarge
But Oriental Steamer to keep on ticking
By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer
ORIENTAL – Town officials gave reluctant approval Tuesday night for the Oriental Steamer Restaurant to feature games and pool tables where Chef Jeff Tomczak once offered fine dining – before Hurricane Irene struck in August of last year.
Tomczak told the commissioners and Oriental Mayor Bill Sage that pool tables and electronic games – combined with easy-to-prepare foods like “pizzas, burgers, and real basic stuff” have been the only way to keep his business afloat in recent months.
“This has actually saved my business after the hurricane,” said Tomczak.
“I’m seeing a lot of the camp counselors,” he added “and I’m getting a lot of good response from my customers. They eat, play games, and have a few beers. I think I’m on the right path, turning into more of a sports bar. I get a lot of comments that there’s absolutely nothing to do in Oriental. I’m busy after everything else closes.”
But Tim Rogers, who lives with his wife and young son directly across Broad Street from Tomczak’s restaurant, told elected officials that the business has been a disruption in recent years.
“I have seen people bring alcohol into Jeff’s place,” said Rogers. “I’ve seen drug deals and drinking in the parking lot. There have been guns fired, domestic violence, and lots of fights have happened there. On one occasion, oral sex was being performed under a tree between the restaurant and the vet’s office. Car doors are open in the restaurant parking lot with radios and music blasting.”
The town’s all-volunteers planning board recently reviewed Tomczak’s application for a ‘Special Use Permit,’ which would allow him to add games “as consistent” with his current status as a restaurant. However, the advisory panel suggested that the commissioners limit the restaurant’s hours of operation and “determine what games” are to be offered.
Commissioners Sherrill Styron and Barb Venturi seemed poised to cut off alcoholic beverages much earlier than state law, which allows drinking until 2 a.m. However, the town’s contracted attorney, Scott Davis, nixed the idea, suggesting instead that any change in hours of operation must be applied equally across the board to all similar establishments.
Styron made it clear that he will likely push for an earlier cutoff.
“I think Jeff needs to be a good neighbor,” said Styron. “When a person is in a bar drinking until 2 a.m., they’re up to no good.”
Venturi signaled that she, too, will push for tighter hours. And, if restricting all of the town’s drinking establishments is necessary to curtail the transgressions of one, then so be it.
“I think 2 a.m. is too late for people to be up drinking,” she said. “I think we need to limit the hours of operation for any establishment that sells alcohol.”
Tomczak got his Special Use Permit, subject to five conditions that the board unanimously agreed were appropriate:
1) Remove all tables and chairs from the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.
2) Keep the front door closed at all times to minimize the effects of wafting music.
3) Post signage inside the front door of the restaurant to prohibit patrons from leaving with drinks or beer.
4) Post ‘No Loitering’ signs in the restaurant parking lot.
5) Allow no amplified music in an outdoor smoking area that Tomczak querulously described as the ‘Blue Room.”
And, the commissioners asked Town Manager Bob Maxbauer to schedule as an agenda item for next month’s meeting discussion of rules and regulations to limit how late patrons may swill a beer in downtown Oriental.
Army of faith-based volunteers, 1500 strong, arrives this week
‘Largest all-volunteer effort in North Carolina history,’ say officials
Special to the County Compass
Group’s credo: As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Peter 4:10
Gibson and local volunteers have made extensive preparations so that Tybor’s troops can hit the ground running.
“I want to thank the New Bern-based Harold Bates Foundation for a $35,000 donation, which we will use to purchase building supplies,” said Gibson. “And, contributions from our local residents have been truly overwhelming. This is an exciting time for our county, and our heartfelt thanks to the men and women with 8 Days of Hope who have come to help us recover from Hurricane Irene.”