Local News

NC Readies Response to Dennis

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RALEIGH — So far, Hurricane Dennis seems to be making its presence known at the coast with strong winds, blustery rain, some scattered flooding, and, inland, with winds and cloud cover. As the day wears on, Dennis is moving in more of an easterly direction.

Still, Dennis could change direction and make landfall -- if not in North Carolina then further north.

And, lest everything be blamed on Dennis, Jerry Jerrell of the National Hurricane Center said that although Hurricane Cindy is much farther east, it was the cause of swells that reached the Carolina beaches Sunday.

The state is coordinating its hurricane response effort from Raleigh.

Officials with the N.C. Emergency Operations Center have been meeting all morning, monitoring developments. By the end of today, 378 National Guard personnel will be in place at the coast, along with armored trucks, Hummvees and chain saws.

Dennis' dalliance has been fickle; some areas had only high winds and heavy rains. Other counties are due for substantial rains, possibly 10 inches in some places, and damaging winds.

Officials have decided, however, that no one's life will be put at risk to make a damage assessment.

One representative at the EOC is Nelle Hotchkiss with the N.C. Electric Co-ops. That utility provides electricity to many rural areas, including the coast.

Hotchkiss reports that 7,000 consumers had lost power in Duplin County, due to a transformer problem. She said there are also some scattered outages. Crews are already on the way to restore electricity.

Especially after Hurricane Fran's devastation, many residents have bought generators for use in power outages. Hotchkiss cautioned people to use them correctly.

Her tips: Do not connect the generator directly to the meter; make sure the generator is grounded; do not use it near standing water; have the correct wattage; and minimize the number of appliances connected to the generator.

A hotline has been set up for donations for the coast. Call 888-786-7601 to donate tools and other items useful in the clean-up.

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Ericka Lewis, Reporter
Ron Pittman, Photographer
Kay Miller, Web Editor

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