In The Wake of Florence
For more than two weeks, Florence churned across the Atlantic. After an initial designation of Tropical Depression (TD 31) on August 31, the storm first grew into category 4 hurricane on September 5. Downgraded to a tropical storm a day later, Florence regained strength and became a category 4 again on September 10.
The News of Davidson team realized that, while we weren’t trying to compete with local TV and their teams of meteorologists, we knew we could provide information to our readers. It began with an article reminding readers of the day in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo cut a devastating swath through town and providing suggested preparation checklists.
As the storm neared the North Carolina coast, we kept on top of predictions – updating our front-page slider photos with the latest information from various weather sources. Those predictions ranged from the track of the storm, to rainfall amounts, to potential power outages. We kept the updates coming after Florence made landfall.
On Friday, the Town of Davidson established an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at Town Hall. It was the first establishment of a weather-related EOC in recent memory, if ever.
The emergency management team began to assess the potential challenges posed by the threat of flooding and impact of wind damage on large trees in town. They quickly realized the magnitude of the situation. While the tree damage would be somewhat unpredictable, the Davidson emergency management team used Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water maps to assess the potential impact of severe flooding.
The “500-year flood” maps showed that the town would essentially be divided into three distinct sectors, and they had to figure out how to ensure that emergency services could reach citizens in all three areas. The South Prong West Branch Rocky River would flood Davidson-Concord Road and parts of Robert Walker Drive, cutting off residents east of Robert Walker Drive. The Bailey Springs neighborhood would likely only be accessible from Cornelius. With all this in mind, they set up a plan to position personnel in strategic locations to provide services.
While that emergency management team was hard at work at Town Hall, our News of Davidson took advantage of the fact that we didn’t lose power. We shared important updates from the town on our web site and our Facebook page. After the high winds came through town, we posted details about downed trees and cleanup efforts around town.
Davidson was clearly spared the worst of the wrath of Florence, but, as you know, the loss of life and economic impacts will be felt across our state and region for months and potentially years to come. We hope that the preparations undertaken for Florence will make preparing for similar weather threats in the future even easier for our readers. . .and for our town, as well.