ROANOKE, Va. – While Florence crawls from the Carolinas to southwest Virginia, here's how the area is preparing for the storm, which is expected to bring heavy rain and potential flooding.
The City of Roanoke is urging those who live in a floodplain to prepare to evacuate, and the city is also under a state of emergency.
For those who don’t have anywhere to go, the city recommends going to the American Red Cross shelter at Berglund Special Events Center.
Several swift water rescue crews are on standby in case of local flooding.
Roanoke City Fire-EMS is staffing multiple swift water rescue boats at the Jamison Avenue station and the Orange Avenue station.
Along with the boats, first responders are reminding residents to never drive around any barricades that may be placed on flooded roadways. Another reminder: turn around, don't drown.
"Us being first responders, if you do get in trouble, we have to respond, so we're going to go get you. That's putting our lives at danger if you take unnecessary risks," said Josh Compton, a firefighter with Roanoke City.
There are also several first responders from out of state who are now stationed across the region. This includes members of the Los Angeles Fire Department in Henry County as well as a task force from Mississippi at Claytor Lake.
Wythe County is used to flooding throughout the area, but officials are taking extra precautions when it comes to the potential impact of Florence.
The county is encouraging all to have an action plan and if you live in a floodplain -- prepare to move out at a moment’s notice.
County officials have helped residents prepare for the impending storm by handing out sandbags.
According to Blake Stowers, the public information officer for Wythe County, the Everbridge system will send out special alerts if there is any flooding in the area.
The County is under a state of emergency as Florence approaches the area.
The county's emergency management staff has closely monitored the forecast over the past week. Officials said that as the remnants of Florence reached the area, staff observed overnight Friday that a higher than projected amount of rainfall fell over the area.
Additional rainfall has the potential to impact the county's more flood-prone areas, officials said.
People are urged to click here and visit the county's social media sites for up-to-date weather information. Officials said citizens may sign up through the county's website to receive "RoCo Alerts," which is the county's citizen alert and warning system used to notify all Roanoke County households and businesses affected by, or in danger of being impacted by, a local emergency. Notifications will include important information about the event and any actions that officials are asking people to take.
The biggest impact from Florence in our region is expected to be in Carroll County.
People who live in the area are bracing for over half a foot of rain.
Residents in Carroll County have already had issues with flooding this year.
With more than 6 inches of rain heading their way, the congregation at Hillsville Pentecostal Holiness Church filled dozens of sandbags by hand to protect their sanctuary — which will also serve as an evacuation center.
"We started planning a week before most people did at the town because we had The storm about six years ago we are a lot of trees were down and stuff and it really paralyzed Hillsville. We want to be on top of it to make sure that we are able to get things done and get roads open faster," said Crowder.
The mayor told 10 News that this week really has been about getting ahead of the storm and making sure plans are put into place for the worst case.
Other evacuation centers include the VFW, Galax Pentecostal, First United Methodist in Hillsville and
Sky View Baptist in Fancy Gap.
A swift water rescue team from Los Angeles, Ca. was asked by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to head to Henry County ahead of Florence.
"Our focus right now is preparing for anything that may happen here in Henry County," Henzgen said.
The closest swift-water rescue team is in Danville, but with a potential for swift-water rescues there, the team won't be available to respond to any rescues in Henry County.
"We are an all-risk swift-water rescue team, which means we can work in very, very fast, turbulent, rapid-type water or we can work in benign, nonmoving static floodwater," Henzgen said.
The team is staying at the Henry County Department of Public Safety's office.
As Montgomery County leaders continue to monitor Florence, they have created a resource page on the county's website with information and tips for preparation at montva.com/florence. In addition to the resource page, county leaders will post information via Citizens Alert (sign up), Shentel and Comcast channel 190, Facebook and Twitter.
On the website, county officials have included tips for creating an emergency preparation kit.
Things to consider during your emergency preparations include:
- Secure outside furniture and tools due to potential high winds.
- Secure animals living outside, including pets and farm animals, to keep them safe from potential high winds and significant rainfall.
- Prepare for potential sustained power outages – those lasting 12 to 24 hours.
- Make plans for keeping necessary foods and medicines in need of refrigeration at safe temperatures.
- Make sure you have flashlights with working batteries.
- Gather necessary medical supplies you might need: