LUMBERTON — Robeson County dodged a meteorological bullet Thursday.
“We did. We most certainly did,” said Stephanie Chavis, county Emergency Management director.
The remnants of Hurricane Michael took a more westerly track through the center of North Carolina, rather than the more easterly track that had been predicted, she said. The track was good for Robeson County, but bad for Charlotte, which sent disaster recovery personnel to Robeson County to help after Hurricane Florence struck in September.
Before the shift in the track, there were predictions of 4 to 6 inches of rain and wind gusts of up to 50 mph that could bring down trees and power lines.
Chavis and members of her staff were talking Thursday about Charlotte’s situation.
“I said we should call them and ask it they needed help from us,” Chavis said.
Chavis spent Thursday in her office on Legend Road and received continuous reports from people out in the county.
“Pretty much all we got was wind and rain,” she said.
As of 4 p.m. Thursday, there were no reports of major damage, such as might be caused by falling trees, she said. As of mid-afternoon, the Lumber River was at about 13.7 feet, just over the 13-foot flood stage, and between 2 and 2.5 inches of rain had fallen on Robeson County.
“We were very fortunate,” Chavis said.
There were no reports of flooding, County Manager Ricky Harris said.
“The storm went west, and that’s a good thing,” Harris said.
Some Duke Energy and Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation customers lost power, but a fraction of the outages that occurred during Hurricane Florence.
“There are 1,055 outages in Robeson County. That number will likely fluctuate as the storm moves through,” said Meredith Archie, a Duke Energy spokesperson.
The company did not have a specific time for when power would be restored to the customers.
“Restoring power after a storm can be extremely challenging for repair crews, as travel and work conditions can be hampered by high winds and flooding – making work lengthy and difficult,” Archie said. “Crews will be assessing damage and then working to restore power as quickly as possible, once it is safe to do so.”
There were 634 LREMC customers without power at about 4:30 p.m., according to E. Walter White Jr., vice president of Corporate Services. Of that number, 435 are in Robeson County.
“We anticipate having everyone back on no later than the end of the day tomorrow,” White said Friday.
The city saw no widespread power outages, City Manager Wayne Horne said. A tree limb did bring down a utility line on Pine Street near Roberts Avenue, but power there was restored quickly.
As of 5 p.m. Michael’s core was 20 miles north-northwest of Raleigh and was packing sustained winds of 50 mph, said Rachel Zouzias, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
The Lumberton Regional Airport reported gusts of 37 and 46 mph, she said. The maximum sustained winds in the county were between 20 and 25 mph most of the day. The worst weather for the county was between noon and 4 p.m., but by then the rain had mostly stopped and the wind was hardly a breeze.
“Most of the rain fell just west of us, north and west,” Zouzias said.
The Lumber River was projected to rise to minor flood stage Friday afternoon “and stay there for a few days,” Zouzias said.
The Highway Patrol was monitoring the roads, but no problems were reported.
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]