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Sep 10

City manager's message to employees, Monday, Sept. 10, 2018

Posted on September 10, 2018 at 5:08 PM by Fred Gaskins

As I am sure you all know, Hurricane Florence is approaching the East Coast. Although the path is somewhat uncertain, there is increasing likelihood that the storm will cause wind, flooding and storm surge issues in our region and city. I want to thank all of our emergency management team departments that have been preparing for the storm since last week. We always prepare for the worst while hope for the best. 
 
Here is the latest information I have as of this afternoon:
 
Hurricane Florence has rapidly intensified and is now a Category 4 hurricane.
Based on forecast track, landfall is likely somewhere on the NC coast sometime Thursday.
The hurricane is expected to slow down once reaching landfall. If the storm stalls out over central North Carolina, rain and storm surge impacts in our area will be worse.
Our region will be impacted, the only question is by how much. 
Southeast Virginia will likely start to see tropical force storm or worse winds starting between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.
There is a potential for major coastal flooding and storm surge. The amount will depend on the final track of the storm. State officials caution that we should not assume the current track through central/western North Carolina will stay. Our area is in the “cone of error”, meaning that the track could turn and have even greater impact on the region.
Hampton and the region have had extensive rainfall over the last couple of days. Our concern is that the ground is saturated, making it more likely than strong winds will topple trees as happened with Hurricane Isabel (as a reminder Isabel was actually a tropical storm when it arrived in Hampton Roads).
As a result, conversations are ongoing about possible evacuation recommendations and/or orders.
Based on this information, I have declared a local state of emergency as of 2 p.m. today. We do this for several reasons including procurement of additional resources, tracking reimbursement of expenses for federal assistance and to signal to the public the seriousness of the forecast.

I have attached some graphics from the 11 am National Weather Service briefing package for those of you want additional information.

Bottom line, Hampton and surrounding localities are going to have some very rough days at the end of this week. Please, please, please take this storm seriously. That means making sure you and your family know your zone, have your hurricane/emergency kit available and have evacuation plans ready to execute should that become necessary over the next day or two. Essential emergency workers will need to remain in the community and I have authorized your department head or designee to identify those employees who are needed to respond during this event. The emergency management team is making plans to shelter and feed our employees who must work during the storm, but it is essential that you make plans to take care of your family.
 
Although the immediate focus is storm preparation and management during the event, recovery is equally critical to the community. I want to remind each of you that -  regardless of the normal daily job you have with us - you can be instrumental in the recovery process. We typically think of storms as a police, fire, public works, social services, emergency management and their supporting departments (such as fleet) task. However, recovery is everyone's responsibility. If the storm happens to cause a lot of damage, there will be enough work for all of us to do. Your department heads and I will ensure that we deploy your talents and skills in a way that will strengthen our community in recovery. We will, of course, keep your safety in the forefront of our minds, but we will also need your help in recovery. Therefore, please plan to report back to work as soon as we indicate it is safe to do so, even if your normal job is suspended for some reason.

Hampton has an amazing team of employees to guide us through all phases of whatever Hurricane Florence brings our way. There is no other team I would want to be a part of during and after a storm of this magnitude!

Mary

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