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Editorial: Kudos to our agencies, which prepared for Irma

Editorial: Kudos to our agencies, which prepared for Irma
September 14
05:00 2017

Looking at the television reports and seeing what Irma did in Florida and the Caribbean has been heartbreaking. The flooding, trees down and power outages have been dramatic.

Winston-Salem and Forsyth County residents are looking and not working like residents south of us because of at least three factors: A weakened Irma mostly steered away from our area, our emergency agencies worked in advance to clear our areas of debris that might have contributed to flooding and we have no large body of water, such as a river, that can overflow.

Some news reports say debris contributed to some flooding south of us.

In a press conference last Friday, Winston-Salem and Forsyth County officials were urging residents to take precautions and prepare for the worst. They also told us what they were doing to prepare.

Representatives from several local agencies – including the local department of transportation, fire department, police department, emergency services, and several others – discussed how they plan to handle possible flooding and other issues Irma could bring to the area.

Mel Sadler, emergency management director, said despite the uncertainty, local agencies were ready for whatever may transpire over the next few days.

At the time, Irma was a Category 5 hurricane that made landfall on Caribbean islands on Wednesday, Sept. 6, and was expected to reach parts of Florida soon afterward. The powerful storm was expected to reach the Carolinas late Sunday evening or early Monday morning, bringing heavy downpours of rain and wind to the Triad area. Later the prediction changed to late Monday and early Tuesday.

“We’re not sure of the direction or the exact arrival time or if it will arrive at all in this particular area but we wanted people to be aware that preparations are being made,” said Sadler. “We want to ask everyone who are citizens of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County to do three things. We want everyone to have an emergency supply kit, make an emergency plan, and stay informed.”

The Department of Transportation focused on making sure the streets and sidewalks were clear. They checked storm water systems to make sure they were free of all debris so water would flow freely off the roads.

The Utilities Department, Forsyth County Emergency Services, Forsyth County Sheriff Bill Schatzman, Winston-Salem Fire Department and Winston-Salem Police Department all spoke about how they were preparing for Irma.

The city even shared a list of the 24 most flood-prone streets across the City of Winston-Salem as determined by Ready Forsyth, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Emergency Management and the Winston-Salem Fire Department.

Irma brought us steady rain, but little else. We remember that Matthew wasn’t so kind to the eastern part of North Carolina last year. Irma did some damage in the western part of North Carolina, according to news reports.

Kudos goes to Winston-Salem and Forsyth County emergency agencies for preparing for the worst. Thank God we didn’t get it.

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