WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Emergency Managers from Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, Robeson, and Pender Counties, have come together to issue a Civil Emergency Message. That message: stay home and stay off the roads.
Wilmington Police Department officials are also warning drivers about roads blocked by downed trees and power lines.
As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, the City of Wilmington says crews have cleared all major roads. There will also be emergency crews on standby if any major streets need to be cleared.
Starting Thursday morning emergency crews armed with extra workers will begin clearing additional roadways. Storm debris will be left on the road side until solid waste crews can pick it up. Solid waste crews will not begin to pick up yard waste until next week, so that customers have time to clean up their yards.
The Battalion Chief of the Wilmington fire Department is pleading for residents to stay inside and off the roads for their safety.
According to Battalion Chief Sammy Flowers, crews are being called to respond to numerous calls from the 911 center of:
power lines down
trees or limbs in the roadway
power lines arching or on fire
structure fire calls
various medical responses
"Safety is our number one concern," explained Flowers. "We do not want unnecessary travelers being part of the problem."
Many traffic lights are out throughout Wilmington causing congestion and confusion at intersections. Please remember that when a signal is out, driver should treat the intersection as a four-way stop.
Public Utility & Power Crews are working around the clock trying to clear roadways and restore power. More than 77 hazardous calls have come in within the past few hours.
If travel is absolutely necessary, officials urge residents to use extreme caution. Not only are their patches of ice on the roads, but also downed trees and power lines across the area.
Mary Katherine Green with Duke Energy Progress said "because the Wilmington area got hit harder than expected they are sending more crews this way." As of last report, more than 45,000 people were without power in New Hanover County, which is about 40% of the customer base for Duke in this area. More than 10,000 were without power in Columbus County, while thousands more were in the dark in Brunswick and Pender counties.
Four County Electric Membership Corporation says there are more than 1,600 customers without power in Bladen, Pender and Columbus counties.
If your power goes out, do not call 911. Instead, you can report it to one of the following:
Bladen County officials released the following contact numbers for residents in Bladen County with power line issues, downed trees, or related questions:
Emergency Operations Center 910-862-7809 (Bladen County only) Power lines down 910-862-7834 (Bladen County only) Trees down 910-862-7835 (Bladen County only)
The full Civil Emergency Message can be read here:
THE EMERGENCY MANAGERS OF ROBESON...BLADEN...COLUMBUS...BRUNSWICK ...PENDER AND NEW HANOVER COUNTIES ARE URGING PEOPLE TO STAY OFF THE ROADWAYS AND REMAIN AT HOME TONIGHT IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. UNLESS A SHELTER OPENS AND IT IS DEEMED NECESSARY TO TRAVEL. WITH THE SEVERE WINTER WEATHER STILL OCCURRING ACROSS OUR REGION THERE HAVE BEEN NUMEROUS REPORTS OF INJURIES AND EVEN A FATALITY AS A RESULT OF DOWNED POWER LINES...FALLING TREES AND LIMBS...SLIPS AND FALLS. ALL PEOPLE IN SOUTHEAST NORTH CAROLINA NEED TO EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION FOR THEIR SAFETY. WITH TEMPERATURES RISING TO ABOVE FREEZING IN SOME AREAS THIS EVENING AND TONIGHT MELTING SHEETS OF ICE FALLING OFF HOMES AND BUILDINGS WILL BE A HAZARD. CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING CAN ALSO BE AN ISSUE IF GENERATORS ARE PLACED TOO CLOSE TO HOMES AND BUSINESSES AND THEY ARE NOT PROPERLY VENTILATED. CANDLES ARE NOT RECOMMENDED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR FLASHLIGHTS DUE TO THE INCREASED RISK OF FIRES. IN THE EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY CALL 911.