By Kendall McGee | June 8, 2021 at 6:33 PM EDT – Updated June 8 at 9:45 PM
BURGAW, N.C. (WECT) – Southeastern North Carolina has taken hits from some pretty serious storms over the years, but many of the most recent hurricanes: Florence, Matthew and Isaias, were predominately flooding events.
While the region has gone decades without seeing a hurricane with devastating sustained winds, leaders say preparing for a wind event is just as important. The last time residents of the Cape Fear experienced such an event was 25 years ago, during Hurricane Fran.
Pender County Emergency Management Director Tommy Batson still remembers the damage left in the wake of Hurricane Fran.
“Fran made landfall in September of 1996, right after Bertha did. We were extremely saturated with rain and water, and then Fran brought the wind, which pushed a lot of trees down and did a lot of structural damage across the region, one of the biggest things that we need to plan for is extensive time without power,” explained Batson.
While many people have enough supplies to make it 72 hours without power, Batson recalls it took weeks for power to be restored after Hurricane Fran. Such extended outages are something everyone needs to consider when making a hurricane plan.
“Make sure to have a way to charge your cell phone and get info you need…to make sure you have water and nonperishable food to maintain your family for multiple days if you need to,” said Jeff Brooks of Duke Energy.
Planning for extended power outages may seem like it’s the worst case scenario, but it’s a situation that people in our region have had to face before.
In 1954, North Carolina saw the state’s strongest and deadliest storm, when Hurricane Hazel made landfall on the border of North Carolina and South Carolina.
According to NOAA, 19 people were killed in North Carolina, with several hundred more injured. Approximately 15,000 homes were destroyed and another 39,000 were damaged, with damage costs amounting to $163 million.
”The worst case scenario. The amount of devastation to the coastal communities in North Carolina from Brunswick County, New Hanover County, Pender County were catastrophic and I hope we never seen an event of that magnitude, but North Carolina has experienced that,” said Batson.
It’s been years, but leaders agree it’s important to remember our region’s history and prepare now so we’re not doomed to repeat it.
”The failure to prepare for a large scale event can result in the loss of life and property,” said Batson. “At no point do we want anyone to sustain injuries or the loss of a loved one as a result of the failure to plan or evacuate in a disaster.”
Right now is the time to figure out where you and your pets would stay if there was an evacuation and to have a kit ready.
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