ROANOKE, Va. – Area emergency crews say they have more than usual on their minds with National Preparedness Month underway. Roanoke response teams plan to learn from the strategies emergency crews are taking in the path of Harvey.
Emergency Management Coordinator Marci Stone said a hurricane like that here is certainly not out of the question. She said the department will go through reports the crews in Texas will file so they can see how effective the strategies were during and after Harvey.
At least one takeaway will be the importance of planning.
"People need to start preparing," she said. "They need to be prepared to shelter in place if they need to stay in their home because of the water. They need to do things like 'Turn around. Don't drown.'"
Stone said because the downtown area is prone to flooding, these are precautions everyone in Roanoke needs to be aware of and businesses in the area can help.
"To make sure that drains aren't clogged and things like that so that the rain goes to the places it's supposed to go and then carries out to the rivers. But the rivers themselves may be flooded," she said.
There’s a plan to use three areas as shelters, if it gets to that point: the Berglund Center and Patrick Henry and William Fleming high schools.
Evacuations can be risky. Houston officials chose not to give that order. Stone said there would be safety challenges in Roanoke too.
"How easy would it be for them to evacuate? Are gas stations going to be open? Are they going to be able to get the essential supplies they're going to need?” she said.
Stone said traffic on highways like Interstate 81 would be a problem.