Power Outages in the Thousands
By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
A severe winter storm, bringing snow and ice, pelted the area last weekend leaving thousands without power.
According to information from Miranda Thompson, EBCI Public Safety intern, around 1,330 homes suffered power outages in Cherokee, and as of Tuesday, 179 homes were still without power.
“Last weekend’s storm affected a huge number of people, but our community came together to help one another through the power outages and downed trees, said Principal Chief Michell Hicks. “Our Roads department did an exceptional job in keeping the roads in good shape through what was a monumental task. I want to thank all those who worked through the bad weather, the volunteers who came out and helped deliver water and make welfare checks and all the good neighbors who helped one another during the storm. I also want to remind everyone to prepare their emergency supplies now because winter is far from over.”
Duke Energy reported over 42,000 power outages in North and South Carolina as of the morning of Saturday, Jan. 30. Information from the North Carolina Department of Emergency Management stated that 22 counties, in addition to the EBCI, declared local States of Emergency and total power outages (all companies) reached 44,600 on Saturday.
Thompson said in a statement released Tuesday, “With the help of volunteers, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), was opened to take calls from the community. Emergency Management, Police, Fire, EMS, Natural Resource Enforcement and volunteers from the community conducted welfare checks to Boundary residences throughout Monday, Feb. 1; distributing water and hearing the needs of the community, specifically elders and those still without power.
North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue declared a State of Emergency for the entire state on Saturday, Jan. 30. On Monday, Feb. 1, she said the situation was still not over. “Even though the sun is shining across much of North Carolina today, the worst of the damage is not over. Tonight’s freezing temperatures will leave tomorrow’s roadways covered in ice. I continue to urge all residents to stay off the roads and to exercise extreme caution.”
As of Monday, only one traffic-related fatality had been reported by the N.C. State Highway Patrol – a fatal collision in Wayne County.
The statement from Thompson further related, “Despite the numerous warnings throughout the week of January 25, many residents were not prepared for the inclement weather. We are asking the citizens to keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days. Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items you may need to be self-sufficient for at least three days (72 hours). This may mean providing your own shelter, first aid, food, water and sanitation.”
Gov. Perdue related Tuesday, Feb. 2 that federal disaster monies will be available to some affected counties inlcuding Jackson.
“The federal declaration has come at an opportune time and will help our communities recover from their losses,” said Perdue, who requested the FEMA assistance. “Many of these same counties incurred additional costs last weekend responding to our most recent snow and ice storm.”
According to information from the N.C. Department of Emergency Management, “The disaster declaration covers Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Haywood, Jackson, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey counties. Watauga and Madison counties incurred the most damage. Preliminary damage assessments indicate costs to recover from the back-to-back December winter storms will exceed $12.5 million. Utility restoration accounts for more than half of the total bill, while debris removal accounts for about one third of the total cost. The N.C. Division of Emergency Management estimates the state will pay $3.1 million to recover from the winter storms; federal funds will cover the remaining costs.
If you need more information about the Disaster Supply Kits or Emergency Planning, you are encouraged to contact EBCI Emergency Management (828) 554-6156 or (828) 554-6157.