Officials at Fayetteville’s public utility expect Hurricane Ian to weaken to a tropical depression before reaching North Carolina but still bring strong winds and heavy rains.
In a quick rundown about preparations for the storm, the chief operating officer of the Fayetteville Public Works Commission said forecast models released Wednesday morning predict winds lower than 35 mph and from 4 to 6 inches of rain.
“And we could see winds up to the 39- or 40-mph range,” said Jon Rynne during PWC’s regular monthly meeting Wednesday morning.
Interim CEO and General Manager Mick Noland cautioned that the forecast could change over the next few days, but he added that the outlook for the Fayetteville area seems to be encouraging at this point.
Rynne said PWC is prepared for bad weather.
“For the electric utility, that means typically scattered outages and things of that nature with the possibility of flooding, which could affect the underground systems,” he said. “So, what we’ve done so far to prepare for this is put more of our line crew in an on-call position for Thursday night into Friday, and we will continue that depending on what impacts are Friday night into Saturday.”
Based on the latest hurricane updates, Rynne said, Ian should pass through the area during the day on Saturday and into Sunday morning.
“So, we will have those resources and contact resources here in our service territory to respond if we have damage,” he told members of the PWC board.
PWC has been contacted by the ElectriCities public power co-op about mutual aid among utilities, including the possibility of providing help in Florida should the storm’s impact in North Carolina be limited.
“Also, we’ll be calling upon some of the other resources from PWC to help handle the possible volume of customer inquiry calls that come in,” Rynne said.
Noland said PWC’s water crews are on “a similar track” in storm preparations and will be ready to answer calls for help.
“We do have on standby the vendor that we use to supply meals for folks who are working,” Noland said.
Hotel rooms also are on standby.
Noland said it’s likely the storm will topple some trees because the ground will be abnormally wet.
The utility has fuel for its generators and tanks are topped off in case of delivery problems, Noland said.
“We don’t think that’s going to be a problem, but we do have tanks topped off as much as we can, given the circumstances, to ride out whatever comes through,” he said. “Of course, on the construction side, the flooding events — the biggest potential there is if there is any damage or overflows. We’ve got 85 lift stations, depending on where the power outages are. That’s one of the initial tasks we have when the heavy rain comes in.”
Lastly, Noland said PWC will try to keep its customers updated as much as possible.
“What we try to do is have an update every hour rather than having a bunch of people calling in and asking, ‘What’s the latest?’ Give it 30 minutes, and everybody will get the same information at the same time,” he said.
For updates and resources, go to Hurricane Information (visitfayettevillenc.com).
Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView. He can be reached at email@example.com.