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Editorial: Rowan Ready for Florence

Here’s a call out to every emergency responder, government official, power company lineman and all the other people who have been on alert for the past week, poised to protect their communities as Hurricane Florence bore down on the Carolinas coast.

As of this writing, Florence has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical depression. While Rowan won’t see the devastation that several coastal communities suffered, we may yet feel the force of Florence. Wind gusts of up to 50 mph are in the forecast today. All told, the storm is expected to dump more rain on Rowan County in a few days than we usually see in months. Flooding and power outages are inevitable.

Fortunately, the people standing by to help residents through the storm are legion.  Emergency responders across this county and nation train for every disaster or mishap you can imagine, including tropical depressions that leave a wake of flooding and destruction. So do public utilities, power companies, hospitals and other helping agencies. The coordination of local services evident during a meeting Thursday at Rowan’s Emergency Operations Center was impressive. Every agency was prepared and ready to follow through.

Chief Chris Soliz just joined Rowan Emergency Services earlier this year from Colorado. While he may not have experienced a coastal hurricane before, Soliz has managed resources during forest fires, snowstorms and massive flooding. “Large scale events are similar,” Soliz said last week. “… All the same elements are here; it’s just in a different package.”

North Carolina has been on top of the storm from the beginning, with Gov. Roy Cooper declaring a state of emergency on Sept. 7, an entire week before Florence made landfall on the coast. Rowan County has been in an official state of emergency since Monday, giving residents plenty of time to stock their emergency kits and secure their homes. After brief period of hectic shopping for water and batteries, the community settled down with a sense of calm preparation.

The local state of emergency may have seemed like overkill to people who woke up Saturday to misting rain, but we have only to see the pictures of devastation from down east to be reminded how importance readiness is. Many thanks to the people across the state who get us through these emergencies.

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