Even if power is out, Durham residents can expect to have their water running throughout Hurricane Florence and its aftermath, Durham city manager Bo Ferguson said.
“If water is coming out of the tap, which it should be, it is safe,” Ferguson said at a press conference Tuesday on Durham’s response to the storm.
Ferguson said that Durham’s city water system is designed to operate during and after a storm, with backup power for water treatment facilities. The only problem Ferguson said that could arise would be a water main break, which can also happen outside of extreme weather. But there is no reason to believe there will be any abnormal effect on the water supply from the hurricane or a water main break.
Flooded streets may be more of a problem. With 10 to 12 inches of rain expected, Jim Groves, Durham Emergency Management Director and Fire Marshal, has identified areas that previously flooded where people were forced to move out of their residences, roads were closed or vehicles were damaged. Starting Wednesday, messages will be sent to residents in those areas notifying them to leave and ensure their vehicles are safe.
Evacuation shelters for those who do not feel safe in their homes will open at the Bahama Ruritan Club at noon Wednesday and at Hillside High School Wednesday at 6 p.m., Groves said. He warned that once sustained winds hit 40 mph or greater or gusts at 58 mph, emergency responders may not be responding.
“Please be accountable for your own safety, the safety of your family, of your relatives, of your pets. Please do not depend on us for your safety,” Groves said, adding that responders may not be able to respond to calls.
Strong winds from Florence are expected to begin affecting the Carolinas Thursday, and the National Hurricane Center predicts that flooding is likely in the Carolinas and the mid-Atlantic states through early next week.
Earlier Tuesday, both Durham City and Durham County signed declarations of emergency, Groves said. The declarations allow both municipalities to collect state and federal funding and loosen regulations for shelters to allow more capacity, Groves said.