09/05/08 — Here comes Hanna

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Here comes Hanna

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on September 5, 2008 1:38 PM

As Tropical Storm Hanna heads for the Carolina coastline, preparations were being made this morning all across Wayne County.

Hanna preparations

News-Argus/Greg Sousa

Bill Kaglic, left, and Charlie Cosma buy a 5000-watt generator at Sam’s Club early today in preperation for Tropical Storm Hanna. Residents across Wayne County and eastern North Carolina were preparing today for the storm, which was expected to reach the state’s coast tonight. Cosma said that he searched as far away as Leesburg, Va for the generator.

From schools dismissing students early, to first responders preparing for the worst and shoppers stocking up on the necessities, most people seemed to be hunkering down for the storm, which is expected to arrive early Saturday -- possibly as a hurricane.

Making the announcement Thursday evening, Wayne County Public Schools decided to begin dismissing most of its schools at noon today.

The Wayne School of Engineering and the Wayne Early Middle College High School were expected to dismiss at 1:30 p.m., and all after-school programs, activities and athletic events have been canceled.

"Due to the threat of inclement weather with Hanna, we decided to dismiss early. The school system had representatives that met with emergency management yesterday, and we've been monitoring the storm throughout the week, watching to see," public information officer Ken Derksen said. "We always like to err on the side of caution. And, if we were to dismiss early, it's better to get information out and let parents make accommodations as needed rather than waiting to see. The last thing we want to do is have buses on the road if wind gusts start appearing or in heavy rains. We want our children to be safe."

Also preparing just in case is the Arr-Mac Water Rescue Team, which will be activated at 6 p.m. tonight.

But with the N.C. National Guard sending help, Mar-Mac Volunteer Fire Deptartment Chief Bill Harrell said his men won't be the only ones manning the crew.

Four pieces of heavy equipment, a large truck and 10 guardsmen are expected to arrive this afternoon.

"We'll just be one big group," Harrell said.

The crew is prepared to cover the whole county, but the chief is not certain they will be needed.

"I don't think (Hanna) is going to be that bad," he said. "We're just worried about the next one."

Many of the shoppers out early today voiced the same sentiment -- that Hurricane Ike is the one to watch -- but they figured it was better to be prepared with water, batteries, three or four days worth of food and gas just in case.

Joy Lewton-Jacome, who works the late shift at Butterball, said that if she is not out by midnight tonight, the gate will close and everybody there will have to ride out the storm at work rather than risk being on the roads.

That's why, she explained, she was out about 6:45 a.m. filling her gas tank at Johnny's on N.C. 111 before going home to check on her generator and to fill up the bath tub.

"We already have bottled water just in case," she said.

Over at Lowe's Home Improvement in Goldsboro, Donnie Bissett and his wife also were making last-minute preparations, having already picked up their bottled water.

"We're ready to go," Bissett said. "Yeah ... Hanna is going to get the ground wet, so Ike can knock down all the trees."

The Bissetts have a generator, but the Truesdale-Frazier family does not.

"We know we're going to be without power," said Dawn Truesdale, who was shopping at Wal-Mart with her daughter, Quesanna Truesdale, and Markel Frazier and their infant son, Jaustyce.

"We'll get water, candles, batteries and some food. We might get a radio," Mrs. Truesdale said while they loaded Jaustyce's carrier into the shopping cart.

The family was especially concerned that all the bottled water might be gone. That is why they came early.

"Look, a lady's come out with a lot of water. We'd better go," Mrs. Truesdale said as they headed into the store.

At the Food Lion on N.C. 111, Jean Gardner of Goldsboro loaded up on bottled water, too, as well as

She and her husband have no generator, but that is the least of their worries. They live in a contemporary house with lots of windows and trees nearby, and they were wondering this morning where to take shelter so as to not be hit by flying glass.

"We might get one (storm) to soak the trees and the other one to knock them down," she said. "So we're hoping we don't get either of them."

In the meantime, officials at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base continued to take precautions, evacuating more of the 916th Air Refueling Wing's aircraft late Thursday afternoon.

The five KC-135R Stratotankers and their crews will spend the next few days at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana, to avoid the storm.

Capt. Shannon Mann, 916th Public Affairs chief, said the aircraft are expected to return to Goldsboro when the threat clears, presumably Monday.

The wing houses a total 16 KC-135s -- five are at Grissom; one is in a Seymour Johnson hangar; and one is at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, with the 80 4th Fighter Wing F-15E Strike Eagles that evacuated to there early Thursday. The rest of the planes are overseas.

Seymour Johnson officials are also making provisions for the families who were left behind when 4th Fighter Wing officials evacuated their F-15E Strike Eagles Thursday.

Hundreds of airmen -- air crew members and maintainers -- will not be at home with their families during the storm, officials said.

So those families who feel they need it will be provided shelter.

Several dozen dorm rooms are available on base, and if they fill up, the Fitness Center would be activated as a shelter, officials said.

Several private schools across the county also are taking precautions.

Wayne Christian School also was expected to dismiss at noon today, and all youth sports soccer planned for the weekend has been canceled.

Summit Christian Academy also dismissed at noon.

Wayne Country Day School, however, was scheduled to dismiss at the usual 3 p.m. today. Although there is no after-school sports practice, after-school care will be open until 5:15 p.m. The driver's education class scheduled for Saturday is canceled, with the next class being held on Sept. 13.

Faith Christian Academy also was expected to complete a full day, dismissing at 3 p.m.

Also closed today are all state parks east of I-95, including Cliffs of the Neuse, which closed at noon today and is expected to reopen Saturday as weather conditions permit.

The Goldsboro Family YMCA also is adjusting its schedule due to the storm. It will close early tonight at 8 p.m. and will open late Saturday at noon.