By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • Hoke County has seen several rounds of strong spring thunderstorms in recent weeks that blew down trees and knocked out the power to thousands of people. With June quickly approaching, it’s time to consider preparing for even stronger storms that could be on the way this year.
Severe storms last Tuesday night took down trees across the county, including some that broke power lines. The outages for both Duke Energy and Lumbee River EMC left thousands from Rockfish to South Hoke in the dark and without air conditioning on what proved to be the hottest day so far this year. In Raeford, a large tree on Fulton Street took out power to over 1,000 residents when it crashed down on power lines and broke a transmission pole.
Work crews were on the job soon after the storms passed, and got the power back on to most customers around midnight or in the early morning hours last Wednesday.
The county has seen further severe storm warnings as the weather continues warming up ahead of the start of summer. Hoke was included in warnings Monday as most of the central and eastern regions of North Carolina were listed under an elevated risk for severe weather by the National Weather Service in Raleigh.
Although the spring storms are typical for this time of year, they herald the approach of the Atlantic hurricane season. The hurricane season runs from June 1 until November 30.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared May 9-15 as Hurricane Preparedness Week as part of a national effort to make people more aware of the dangers of hurricanes. Cooper encouraged all North Carolinians to make preparations for tropical weather by putting together emergency supplies and having an evacuation plan in place if needed.
“All North Carolinians should take this time to prepare for the possible impacts of a hurricane or other severe weather by updating their family emergency plans and supply kits,” Cooper said in a statement. “Having a plan and supplies will help you to survive through a hurricane and to recover faster should one adversely affect your home.”
Parts of North Carolina are still recovering from hurricane strikes in recent years, including Hurricane Isaias and the remnants of Hurricane Eta in 2020; Hurricane Dorian in 2019; Hurricane Florence as well as Tropical Storms Michael and Alberto in 2018; and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Matthew in particular hit Hoke County and surrounding counties hard, with flooding that washed out roads and high winds that downed trees and made travel hazardous.
The state Emergency Management office recommended that families create an emergency plan, and gather important documents such as insurance policies, medical records, prescriptions and a copy of identification. Put the important documents somewhere you can quickly access in case of emergency. Updating homeowners or renters’ insurance policies to make sure they are current and provide adequate coverage is also helpful.
Emergency hurricane kits should include enough non-perishable food and water to last each family member three to seven days. Other essential items include a first-aid kit, weather radio and batteries, sleeping bag or blankets, changes of clothes, hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and deodorant, cash, pet supplies, face masks and hand sanitizer.
More information on hurricanes and overall emergency preparedness is online at ReadyNC.org.