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FLORENCE UPDATE: 6-10 inches of rain this weekend

Map shows projected rainfall total of 6-10 inches in Henderson County. Map shows projected rainfall total of 6-10 inches in Henderson County.

Hurricane Florence could bring 6-10 inches of rain to the Hendersonville area when it moves into the mountains late Saturday night, the National Weather Service says.

The large tropical system will move through the area on Sunday and move out on Monday, meteorologist Chris Horne of the NWS office in Greer, S.C., said Thursday morning. The storm when it reaches our area is expected to be "breezy to windy." "By that time the tropical system will have decayed considerably as it moves into the mountains," Horne said. "I think the potential for heavy rain will be winding down by Monday."

Henderson County officials are doing “everything that can be done,” County Manager Steve Wyatt said, in advance of the category 3 hurricane which was packing winds of 125 mph and was projected to make landfall on Friday along the coast of the Carolinas.

“We have not activated the EOC (emergency operations center) at this time,” Wyatt said. “This has been the most unpredictable path according to NOAA to try to figure out the timing. It’s shifted south, which is not good for us. We’ve basically got every agency on standby to do one of two things: to respond to the needs here or perhaps elsewhere. I’ve been in contact with county managers in the eastern part of the state and told them, If we have resources that we don’t need here and you guys get hammered, call me.”
Forecasters say the slow-moving system could dump up to 2½ feet of rain on coastal areas if it stalls after making landfall.
“The best case scenario is we get 5 inches of rain, we get some wind, we have power outages and it goes away,” Wyatt said. "Worst case scenario is twice that much, three times that much.”
Emergency personnel are prepared to open shelters at First Baptist Church and East Henderson High School if necessary. A check with the Tourism Development Authority showed that there were some hotel rooms in town despite heavy visitation for the World Equestrian Games and the Mountain State Fair and the evacuation of thousands of coastal residents.
“There were this morning some vacancies,” he said. “I don’t know but with the weather maybe people have canceled some plans. We’re trying to monitor that kind of thing.”
Schools Superintendent Bo Caldwell and his staff were closely following the storm’s approach and preparing to make a call on whether to close schools Monday and possibly Tuesday, depending on conditions and power outages.

"As always safety comes first with us and we're certainly going to make decisions when the situation comes that we know very clearly," he said. "It looks like now maybe Sunday afternoon and it depends on how much rain and wind and electrical issues we get hit with. Right now we're just monitoring it very closely" and preparing to make decisions to ensure "all our staff and children and everyone's safe."
Wyatt urged residents to prepare now, remain composed and look out for neighbors.
“The government can do so much but it’s up to each individual citizen to be as best prepare as their circumstance allows. Think about your neighbor — neighbors that are elderly, neighbors that have special needs, be cognizant of those things. If we use our heads, we’re compassionate and caring with our neighbors, in a few days this too shall pass if we’re smart. What we don’t need is people taking chances. The good news is it’ll move in and move out.”

Concert called off

Postponements and cancellations piled up as updated forecasts showed Hurricane Florence on a potential path to affect the southern mountains.

Dr. Amal and Darlene Das announced that they had called off the End of Summer Music on Main concert scheduled for Saturday night downtown.
“For safety measures I just think it’s not a wise thing to try to pull it off,” Darlene Das said. “It’s going to be rescheduled for early June. We’re working out a date with them. We’ll have to resubmit our application to the city, it’s kind of back to square 1 but I don’t foresee there will be a problem with it.”
She plans to recast the event as a kickoff to the 2019 Music on Main Street series.
“It’s still going to be a great thing,” she said. The headliner band, the Swinging Medallions, and the stage provider did not charge her for the cancellation. “It’s amazing everybody has been just wonderful to work with and feels my pain and we’ve lost no money.”

Campgrounds closed

The U.S. Forest Service, Forest Supervisor, having closely tracked the forecast models of Hurricane Florence, has decided to close down all campgrounds and recreation sites, day use or overnight, in the Nantahala and the Pisgah National Forests by Thursday September 13 at noon.

This will include the temporary suspension of creating reservations on Cancelled reservations, for this timeframe, will be refunded by the reservation service.
The Forest Service will close all seasonal gates, to ensure no one has the opportunity to get trapped behind gates. We strongly request that, due to expected wind and rainfall, the public not use trails or general forest areas. Emergency response times will be multiplied if an incident or medical emergency were to occur.
The health, safety, and well-being of the public and visitors to our National Forests is of our number one priority. Sites will be evaluated for health and safety and reopened as conditions allow following the storm passage.
Pisgah National Forest campgrounds will remain closed until further notice:

  • Briar Bottom Group Campground
  • Black Mountain Campground
  • Brown Mountain Campsites
  • Carolina Hemlocks Campground
  • Cove Creek Group Campground
  • Curtis Creek Campground
  • Davidson River Campground
  • Deep Creek Hunt Camp
  • Harmon Den Campground
  • Kuykendall Group Campground
  • Lake Powhatan Campground
  • Mortimer Campground
  • North Mills River Campground
  • Rocky Bluff Campground
  • Sunburst Campground
  • Wash Creek Group Campground
  • White Pines Group Campground
  • Wolf Ford Horse Camp 

In other schedule changes:

  • Interfaith Assistance Ministry is closed Saturday.
  • The We Read the Constitution event scheduled for Saturday at Bill Moore Park has been postponed to Oct. 13 and moved to Jackson Park.