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National Guard, emergency officials give update on West Virginia hurricane preparation

Emergency officials provide an update on efforts to prepare for the remnants of Hurricane Florence when it approaches West Virginia. (West Virginia Governor's Office)

The West Virginia National Guard and other emergency officials, along with the National Weather Service, gave an update Friday morning on the possible effects of Hurricane Florence on West Virginia with heavy rain coming as early as Sunday.

At a preparedness briefing, Jeff Hovis of the National Weather Service said heavy rains from the hurricane could come to the eastern mountains as early as Sunday, but generally the rain could come Monday and Tuesday. He said 2 to 4 inches of rain is expected across the state, with higher amounts in the southern mountains.

The news conference can be viewed here:

Flooding could result as the storm moves through, particularly in eastern West Virginia and in the mountains, and there is an elevated threat of tornadoes, he said. Wind gusts of 40 mph are possible in the southern mountains that could bring down trees.

The National Guard provided an update about its activities and how it is coordinating with multiple state agencies for possible emergency response. The Guard said it is currently tracking 75 personnel and will determine how many need to be called to active status.

In Martinsburg, the 167th Airlift Wing is being used as a staging area for the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the Guard is working on efforts nationally.

A swift water rescue team is on standby in West Virginia if it is needed.

Gov. Jim Justice, who attended the briefing, said he has been monitoring Hurricane Florence and watching coverage “with earnest,” not only for possible effects on West Virginia but other states.

“There’s lots of people in harm’s way and lots of concerns,” Justice said.

“If this (hurricane) turns and goes to the southern mountains of West Virginia, and we get 2 to 4 inches of rain, you’ve got big time flooding,” Justice said.

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