LUMBERTON — Robeson County leaders and residents watch, wait and do what they can to prepare as Hurricane Irma churns west through the eastern Atlantic Ocean.
The Category 3 hurricane is moving west-northwest at 15 mph with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph. It is about four days east of the outermost Caribbean Islands and about one week from the United States. Irma is expected to remain a powerful storm into next week.
What track Irma takes remains unclear. Multiple forecasts have the storm either hitting somewhere along the U.S. Atlantic coast or turning north and remaining over the ocean.
But, with the ravages of Hurricane Matthew still fresh in the memories of Robeson County residents and the scars from the Oct. 8, 2016, landfall still visible local leaders are vigilant.
“We’ll just have to wait and see,” Lumberton City Manager Wayne Horne said.
While city and county leaders “wait and see” they are taking the small but critical steps they can to get ready for a possible landfall near Robeson County. Generators are being checked to make sure they are operational. Vehicle fuel tanks are filled, and contacts made to ensure repair crews will be deployed by mutual aid agencies if power is lost.
“We’re stocking up the Emergency Operations Center,” County Manager Ricky Harris said.
County fire and rescue personnel have been told to be on standby and be prepared, said Stephanie Chavis, county fire marshal and Emergency Services director. Chavis also is getting regular updates on Irma’s location, strength and movement from the National Weather Service and sharing this information with county department leaders.
“We are in a monitoring stage right now,” Chavis said recently.
Robeson County residents can register to receive emergency notifications on the county CodeRED system. The system sends notifications about emergency situations, such as storms and floods, to private telephones. Go to www.co.robeson.nc.us or call the Robeson County Emergency Management Office at 910-671-3150 to register.
Reach T.C. Hunter at 910-816-1974.