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NCDOT Crews in Preparation Mode

Motorists urged to avoid travel during and immediately after the storm

Greenville - NCDOT crews in Division 2, which includes Jones, Carteret, Pamlico, Craven, Lenoir, Greene, Pitt and Beaufort counties, are preparing for impacts from Tropical Storm Hermine this weekend.

In addition to making sure all needed equipment is ready, maintenance crews have been busy all day clearing storm drains and identifying potential trouble spots, based upon ground elevation and past experience.

County Maintenance Engineers are also coordinating with other local agencies including Emergency Management Offices and the State Highway Patrol regarding possible evacuation and response efforts, and with local government on debris removal operations and disposal. Crews are also prepared to restore access to the ferry terminal at Cedar Island to expedite recovery efforts if necessary.

The greatest impact from the weather is expected to occur late Friday evening and early Saturday morning, with wind and rain likely lasting throughout the weekend. Severe flooding, especially in low lying areas, is anticipated. Depending upon the intensity, track and duration of the storm, downed power lines, toppled trees and torn tree limbs are possible. If the region experiences a direct hit from Tropical Storm Hermine, debris such as tree limbs will likely find its way onto travel lanes.

The Department of Transportation advises motorists to refrain from travel during and immediately after the storm when roads might become impassible. Additionally, there are several serious road hazards that can make travel soon after a storm passes extremely dangerous including downed powerlines beneath flooded streets, potential washout of the road due to heavy downpours and high water levels that can strand motorists. Here are some very important severe weather safety tips and considerations:

  • Make storm preparations in advance.
  • Stock up with enough water, medication, baby formula, non-perishable food and other essentials to last a minimum of 72 hours.
  • Traveling during a storm can be very dangerous. Avoid driving unless it is absolutely necessary.
  • The period immediately after a storm can be even more dangerous than the storm itself.
  • You will likely encounter washed out roads where the water is too murky to determine the depth.
  • Flood conditions might be so severe that you will not be able to see where a road ends and a waterway begins.
  • Moving water can also quickly sweep a vehicle away.
  • Stay clear of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood.
  • Downed power lines can be especially hazardous in the aftermath of a storm. If you drive and stall out in a flooded area, be especially careful.
  • Many post storm injuries and fatalities are caused by downed power lines.
  • Depending on the severity of the storm, many roadways will be blocked by debris. The ground in eastern North Carolina is already saturated. Wet soil increases the likelihood of trees falling onto roads.
  • If you must venture out, be aware that cell phone towers and other telecommunications infrastructure might have been damaged. You might be on your own.
  • Expect closures and detours. The routes you normally take to work or to your grocery store might not be open.
  • Expect to encounter first responders and repair crews. Please stay clear and allow them to do their job.
  • If you do travel after the storm passes, be aware that traffic lights might be out at various intersections.
  • In this instance, use caution and treat the intersection as a four-way stop.
  • If you have an emergency on the road, and your cell phone is operational, you can contact the Highway Patrol statewide by calling *HP (*47) or call law enforcement by dialing 911. Reduce your speed and drive defensively. Motorists should drive at least five to 10 miles per hour slower on wet pavement and allow at least twice the normal following distance between cars to provide ample room for stopping. Be ready for a sudden stop. Remember that the driver behind you cannot see well either in the rain. Signal for turns ahead of time and brake early as you near a stop. Be patient and do not pass lines of traffic
  • Roads are the slickest once rain has begun to fall. For the first 10 to 15 minutes, the rain combines with dirt, dust, oil, grease and rubber to create a slippery surface. If the rain is extremely heavy, stop and pull over with your emergency flashers on, away from any trees or other tall objects. If motorists must exit the vehicle, they should do so on the passenger side of the car 
  • Turn on your low beam headlights and use the defroster to increase visibility whether it is day or night. North Carolina law states that motorists must use their headlights at all times while using windshield wipers, regardless of the time of day
  • Do not drive through flooded areas. If you see a flooded roadway ahead, turn around and take an alternate route to your destination. If there is no alternate route, head to higher ground and wait for the water to subside. Do not attempt to cross over a flooded road even if it seems shallow. Just one foot of water can float many vehicles, while two feet of rushing water can carry away vehicles including SUVs and pick-ups; 
  • After driving through a puddle, tap your brake pedal to help dry your brake rotors.
  • Know what to do if your car begins to hydroplane. Hydroplaning occurs when your tires glide across the surface of the water on the road. If your car starts to hydroplane, take your foot off the gas, but do not stomp on the brakes. Instead, apply the brakes in a steady, slightly firm manner, and steer in the direction of the skid. If you have a manual transmission push in the clutch and let the car slow down on its own. If you have an automatic transmission, hold the steering wheel steady and lightly apply the brakes. For cars that have antilock brakes, you should apply more pressure to the brakes, but avoid pumping them.
  • Put together a supply kit for your trunk. Include a flashlight, first aid kit with an instructional manual, blanket, booster cables, shovel, sand to give tires needed traction, snacks and drinking water, and safety flares or an orange or red cloth to tie to the antenna.
  • Please don’t call 911 to check on road conditions. That line is for emergencies only.

For real-time travel information at any time, visit the Traveler Services section of the NCDOT website or follow NCDOT on Twitter.


2/19/2018 7:48 AM