In Fayetteville, if storm hits, shelters are prepared, but bring your pillow

Posted July 31, 2020 1:53 p.m. EDT
Updated July 31, 2020 5:39 p.m. EDT

— With another hurricane bearing down on the East Coast, emergency management personnel are faced with a new challenge – prepare to protect people, especially if evacuations are necessary, while maintaining social distance.

Depending on the track, Hurricane Isaias could be a soaker for eastern North Carolina, and counties are planning to open shelters to those who would flee any flooding.

While the storm track is not yet clear, the planning is well underway in Cumberland County.

James McClaughlin was buying bottled water. "I'm concerned about it," he said.

Director of Emergency Management Gene Booth said the Smith Recreation Center, off Langdon Street near Fayetteville State University, which has been used during past storms, will look a little bit different should it be needed next week.

"We have to implement social distancing. There are more cleaning regiments. You're going to be required to wear a mask," he said.

Booth said if the need for shelter is great, instead of adding beds, the county will open shelters in more locations.

One key difference: Initially, cots may not be available. "Be prepared to bring a pillow, some bedding, a blanket," Booth said.

Fayetteville and Cumberland County residents are no strangers to hurricanes and the damage they can bring. Both Hurricanes Matthew and Florence ripped paths of destruction through the heart of the county. Those storms forced many to seek emergency shelter in school gymnasiums and county recreation centers.

While public recreation centers have been closed since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, Red Cross and county emergency management leaders checked out the facilities Friday to make sure they'd be ready if needed.

Booth said those who seek a public shelter should pack enough medications, toiletries and personal items for a stay of about three days.

Residents should also make arrangements for pets. Not all shelters allow animals.

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