Carter County sees slight impact from Hurricane Florence

Published 8:31 am Wednesday, September 19, 2018

As Hurricane Florence closed in on the east coast late last week, local government agencies were preparing for the possibility of emergency situations here in the area. “We are lucky we missed the flood,” said Carter County Mayor Rusty Barnett during Monday night’s commission meeting. “We had people working hard. I have to give a plug to EMA director (Gary) Smith here. We had plans for four shelters if we needed them.”

Barnett went on to say that with fears of possible flooding in Roan Mountain the Cloudland Elementary School was readied to be used as a possible shelter.

However, when it came to the weather, Carter County, besides some rain, didn’t see much impact over the weekend. Carter County Emergency Management Director Gary Smith said that the EMA didn’t see an influx of calls and that there weren’t any reported flooding or power outages.

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“As far as I know, it was totally quiet,” said Smith. “We didn’t have anything that I have been briefed on.”

With the weather being milder than expected, Carter County did see some individuals from areas directly impacted by Hurricane Florence come to the area to escape the storm which is now categorized as a post-tropical cyclone after causing 33 storm-related deaths and leaving 343,000 people to be without power in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Seth Hice with the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce said that roughly four groups of people from areas affected by the storm stopped by the Chamber building in Elizabethton. The Chamber provided evacuees with hospitality bags that included local maps, a visitor’s guide, toiletries, and travel items.

Mary Breuer, who is an owner of Black Bear Resort in Hampton, said the business had a lot of cancellations due to the threat of inclement weather and the closure of sections of the Appalachian Trail. The resort offered discounted prices to evacuees and had two to three families stay due to Hurricane Florence.

An individual who works the front desk at the Americourt Hotel in Elizabethton said that the hotel booked nine to 15 rooms to evacuees.

While in Carter County, some evacuees visited Off the Grid Mountain Adventures which was offering discounted prices to those affected by the storm. Off the Grid owner, Monie McCoury, said his business had roughly 40 to 50 people from areas hit by the hurricane visit them over the weekend.

“They were able to cut loose and have some fun,” said McCoury. “They, kind of, got to forget about all of the crap that is going on down there.

“It is an honor and a blessing that we have something that is affordable, and  you can see families smiling and having fun.”