This morning Scotland County could get scattered rain and winds, but nothing at all like what much of the East Coast is enduring in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
County officials said they were thankful that the devastating storm has bypassed the area.
Sandy, which made landfall north of the state, did not bring the torrential rains and high winds more common in hurricanes that make landfall farther south.
“A hurricane that makes landfall on the South Carolina coast would typically have a much greater effect on Scotland County,” said EMS Director Roylin Hammond. “It has the potential to put us on the right side of the hurricane, which is the stronger side. Hurricane Floyd and Hurricane Fran both made landfall to the southeast of us; Fran did some wind damage here and Floyd we got a little bit of rain.”
On Monday, no injuries, power outages, or property damage related to Sandy had been reported in Scotland County.
“We’ve been extremely fortunate - we didn’t even get as much rain as we hoped we would get,” Hammond said. “We haven’t had any issues at all. I think there might be a few issues going on in the Outer Banks right now, but nothing of any significance that I’m aware of. The National Weather Service did not think that we were going to be inundated by anything in North Carolina, so nobody got very excited about this.”
Still officials here were ready.
“We’ve been on standby, but that was mostly as a what-if,” said Hammond. “We have an emergency operations plan that’s an all-hazards plan, it addresses anything whether it’s a hurricane or a tornado, a flood or ice storm, and you virtually have to do similar things in all of those cases - that starts with us activating our emergency operations center. It’s fortunate that we didn’t have anything happen, because our emergency operations center happens to be where they’re having early voting and they actually have priority over us.
North Carolina’s electric cooperatives along the coast worked quickly over the weekend and into Monday morning to restore power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy, according to Kristie Aldridge, a spokesman for North Carolina Electric Cooperative.
Aldridge said most of the electric cooperatives along the coast reported just scattered outages; Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative, however, did have a circuit go down as a result of flooding, and the cooperative is currently working to restore power to 500 consumers.
“Now North Carolina’s electric cooperatives in the western part of the state are on high alert, ready to respond should outages occur as a result of the major wind and snow event predicted in the mountains,” she said. “In preparation for the severe weather, line crews are double-checking equipment and supplies and fueling their trucks.”
Other parts of the country may not have been so lucky.
Hurricane Sandy bore down on the Eastern Seaboard’s largest cities on Monday, forcing the shutdown of mass transit, schools and financial markets, sending coastal residents fleeing, and threatening a dangerous mix of high winds, soaking rain and a surging wall of water up to 11 feet tall.
Sandy strengthened before dawn and stayed on a predicted path toward Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York — putting it on a collision course with two other weather systems that would create a superstorm with the potential for havoc over 800 miles from the East Coast to the Great Lakes. About 2 to 3 feet of snow were even forecast for mountainous parts of West Virginia.
Officials said local emergency responders may be called upon for assistance in severely affected areas.
Laurinburg City Manager Ed Burchins said that there have not yet been requests for city crews to help. Such requests would likely come from NC Electricities or the state Department of Public Safety.
“We haven’t had a request to help,” Burchins said. “Years ago, when there was a hurricane, the city gave its assistance. If a request does come, we will talk with council and get permission.”
Local American Red Cross volunteers may also be deployed to deal with the storm and its aftermath.
“Right now the deployments are on hold,” said Carol Ann Lentz, director of the Scotland County chapter of the American Red Cross. “The Red Cross is deploying some folks but we’re not sending anybody locally at this point because of the weather - travel would be an issue. The Red Cross is just sending people who can drive to the locations at this point.”
So far, 112 Red Cross shelters have been set up across nine states, with some 3,200 overnight residents on Sunday. More than 1,000 workers have been deployed in eight different states to man shelters and feeding stations.
“We expect for that to increase today as the storm moves up the coast,” said Lentz. “We may possibly deploy afterwards, it depends on the scope of the disaster.”
The aftermath of Sandy will determine the length of time and amount of effort required to return the Northeast to its usual state.
“It could be weeks, it could be months, it just depends on the people who are affected depending on how much water damage there is, the storm surge, the wind, the rainfall,” Lentz said. “It can be very specific in a small area and then not as much up the road.”
To follow the storm’s progress and for tips on preparation for other hurricanes, Red Cross hurricane and first aid apps are available online along with a basic preparation checklist. To assist in relief efforts, financial donations can be made online year-round, give blood or host a blood drive, or become a volunteer nationally or with a local Red Cross chapter.
“It’s when the storms come in like this that we’re all reminded of the different ways that people can help,” said Lentz.