York County’s population of more than a quarter million people should “expect to lose power” during a “rough and dangerous” Hurricane Florence storm that will lash the area through Sunday, emergency officials said.
York County could see countywide flooding as a forecast of up to 10 inches of rain will fall from Friday through Sunday, said York County Emergency Management Director Chuck Haynes. Friday night through mid-Saturday is expected to be “the worst stretch,” Haynes said.
“The moisture drop in that time frame is going to be a real challenge,” Haynes said at a news conference Thursday. “Trees are going to come down, power lines are going to come down, roads are going to be blocked.”
Officials expect sustained winds of at least 20 mph for several hours through Sunday, coupled with gusts of up to 50 mph and continuous rain, Haynes said. Emergency officials are wary of a catastrophic event.
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“Water is what takes lives,” Haynes said.
Lancaster County and bordering areas have seen potential rainfall increased to 15 inches, Haynes said..
“You could be in York County and see that kind of total,” Haynes warned.
Drenched ground coupled with sustained wind and constant rain could lead to trees down causing power outages, Haynes said.
The storm’s center will pass south of York County, according to path projections Thursday afternoon, which means northern rain bands will directly affect York County, Haynes said, including increased risk of tornadoes.
Emergency officials will use county warning sirens if a tornado warning is issued by the National weather Service or a tornado is spotted, Haynes said.
All area waterways along the Catawba River are closed for recreation, officials said.
York County 911 director Allen Brandon and Trent Faris of the York County Sheriff’s Office urge residents to call 911 for a life-threatening emergency, injuries, downed power lines or trees in roads. Do not call 911 for routine questions about the storm, officials said.
Faris said waterways and flooded roads will be “extremely dangerous” and drivers should avoid any road with 6 inches or more of water.
“This is not a normal heavy rain event’ Faris said. ‘This is not the time to practice extreme sports.”
Public works officials said equipment, fuel and other materials are ready to assist first responders and the storm’s aftermath.
“This is going to be a debris event” said Eric Rekitt, York County Public Works director.
Debris should be taken to within 10 feet of the roadway to be picked up after the storm, Rekitt said.
York County Animal Control officials said all pets should be checked for identification, and vaccination and other documents should be kept with owners.
County officials will post storm information throughout the storm at yorkcountygov.com.
A dedicated phone line for storm information in York County is 803-325-2400.