Storm damage being assessed

Published 9:13 am Thursday, October 18, 2018

Hurricane Michael blew through the area Thursday, with 60 mph wind gusts and torrential downpours that produced over five inches of rain in less than three hours.

As of Monday morning, there were still 450 homes with no power.

How such a powerful storm sneaked up on the area is still baffling to many, including Brian Byrd, Davie emergency management coordinator.

“This storm changed so quickly. Within the last few hours before it got here, it took a different track,” he said.

Byrd was in on two conference calls Thursday, one early in the morning and one a few hours later. It only took minutes for the information provided during the second call to convince him to leave the meeting and begin putting into place all the plans constructed during the locally minor Hurricane Florence.

Those plans, he said, along with good communication and a good relationship with the school system, resulted in no loss of life here and only one minor injury, to a child in a crib at a home off NC 801. The child, he said, was hit with some debris from a tree that fell onto the mobile home. The Red Cross has found a short term housing situation for the family, Byrd said.

A decision by the school system to hold students at their schools past the regular dismissal times had some taking to social media with complaints, but Byrd said that difficult decision was the right one.

“I’m happy we have such a good relationship with Dr. (Darrin) Hartness and the school system to help keep the kids safe, and I’m sure lives were saved because of that call,” he said, adding that no buses were able to go out Thursday afternoon because of roads littered with downed trees and power lines. Parents were notified they could pick up their children, and those who weren’t able to be collected received transportation by sheriff’s department officials.

County employees were also advised to shelter in place until the storm passed.

A swift water rescue team traveled to the Arcadia area in Davidson County to help a dozen horses that were trapped in a pasture. Byrd said by the time they got there, the water was already up to some of the horses’ necks. It was the same team that traveled down east to help out after Hurricane Florence. No water rescues were needed in Davie, he said.

At the height of the storm, a crew from one of the fire departments was out trying to clear roads but had to return to the station because trees were falling all around them.

At the Yadkin College marker at U.S. 64, the Yadkin River crested at 27.3 feet just after midnight Friday.

“We were absolutely shocked at how far the river got up this time,” Byrd said.

There were so many trees across roads at one time that the county and department of transportation ran out of barricades. Some remained closed for days.

Thousands of people were without electricity, some until the weekend.

Countywide damage includes 10 homes with major damage, a bridge on Georgia Road that is washed out, and some campers at Thousand Trails that were situated in an area known to be flood prone. Byrd is still working with state officials to determine a cost estimate for the damage and to ascertain if the county will be eligible to receive FEMA assistance.