Raleigh, NC – Hurricane Florence devastated parts of North Carolina with unprecedented flooding and road closures, but this week brought some positive news. Sections of Interstates 95 and 40, which were closed for about a week, reopened, as did other key routes in many southeastern counties.
Personnel across the department played a key role in preparedness and response.
The state’s ferries aided in evacuations from Ocracoke Island before the storm. Afterwards, they transported personnel, fuel and equipment to areas that were inaccessible by land due to flooding.
The Public Transportation Division coordinated with transit systems to use buses to evacuate people before and after Florence. They also ferried National Guard troops during emergency response effort, and continue to provide vital transportation services for evacuees. Eighteen transit systems in central and eastern North Carolina have been part of this effort, making more than 3,000 trips.
North Carolina’s passenger trains could not run for several days during the hurricane, but worked diligently to restore service to provide another travel option while many roads were closed.
The Division of Aviation assembled drone teams before the storm that were immediately deployed for damage assessment. The teams included NCDOT and NC State Highway Patrol personnel.
They conducted 253 assessment missions and collected 2,600 aerial images of the flooding and destruction caused by Florence. These images have helped officials safely and quickly view which roads are flooded and find potential alternative routes for drivers.
Law enforcement officers with the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles’ License and Theft Bureau helped swift water crews rescue people forced to evacuate their homes, and also provided shelter security for evacuees.
In addition, officers helped the State Highway Patrol monitor the interstates and highways to ensure motorists were using the safe detours established when roads became impassable due to flooding or storm damage.
Meanwhile, Global TransPark in Kinston was used as a major staging area for rescue efforts with more than 700 first responders working out of the site to quickly reach those in need of help.
Now that floodwaters have receded in many areas, inspectors are able to determine whether roads and bridges are safe to open and, if not, what repairs are needed.
More than 2,600 DOT employees are working on recovery efforts, including 250 crew members who have left less impacted areas of the state to help their coworkers in the hardest hit areas. They’ve been joined by 160 contractors helping with cleanup and recovery.
The state now has less than 300 closed sections of roadway, down from more than 1,600 during the peak of the storm.