Hurricane Florence, 5 p.m., Thursday: Elizabethtown sets up curfew, command center

By: Chrysta Carroll and Alan Wooten - Bladen Journal
Chrysta Carroll | Bladen Journal At the Corner Cafe, the prevailing opinion is spoken for all of Elizabethtown.
Chrysta Carroll | Bladen Journal The streets of Elizabethtown, usually hustling and bustling weekday afternoons, were more like a ghost town Thursday ahead of Hurricane Florence's arrival.
National Weather Service Models predicting seven-day totals for rain show Bladen County near the 20 inches area.
Chrysta Carroll | Bladen Journal The streets of Elizabethtown, usually hustling and bustling weekday afternoons, were more like a ghost town Thursday ahead of Hurricane Florence's arrival.

ELIZABETHTOWN — As Ricky Leinwand left an emergency called meeting of the Town Council on Thursday morning, he had a tear in his eye.

“This is going to be bad, and I’m very concerned about our residents,” he said, affirming he’s confident everything that could be done in preparation for Hurricane Florence has been accomplished. “I’ve been going out today and checking on my elderly constituents to see if they need anything.”

Florence moved within 100 miles of Wilmington in the afternoon, its projected path having changed through the last 36 hours but still remaining close to Bladen County.

The Elizabethtown Town Council instituted a curfew to last 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. until further notice.

“There’s no reason for anybody to be out on the roads — everything is closed,” said Mayor Sylvia Campbell.

The consensus of forecasters locally and nationally was that landfall would happen overnight Thursday into Friday morning in southeastern North Carolina near Wilmington. The adjacent counties would see rainfall throughout the weekend as the slow moving storm turns west to southwest, next heading across South Carolina.

Flooding and dangerous winds are among the primary concerns.

Shelters opened Wednesday at five Bladen County schools At 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon, more than 800 people had taken refuge. That included 437 at West Bladen High School, 211 at East Bladen High School, 74 at East Arcadia School, 60 at Bladen Lakes Primary School and 39 at Elizabethtown Middle School.

West Bladen was within 200 of capacity and Bladen Lakes nearly within 100 of capacity. East Bladen and Elizabethtown Middle could in another 400 each, and East Arcadia another 300.

Eddie Madden, town manager in Elizabethtown, said “another level of support” to the county’s efforts has been set up in the form of a command center at the Elizabethtown Fire Department.

“Everything is digital now, but we learned from Matthew that we needed to have a land line,”Madden said. “The 862-2066 number is a land line, so people should be able to call that number if they need to get in touch with us.” He stressed it’s “not a 911, but for people to tell us about closed roads or things like that.”

Public services, fire and police staff may also be reached at 862-2479. Staff will not be dispatched for non-emergency calls after winds reach 40 mph.

The town requests residents do not place bulk items by the street until further notice. Waste Industries will resume services Wednesday.

“I tell you, we have a wonderful staff, and I don’t think there’s any town anywhere that’s more prepared for this storm than we are,” Campbell said.

Madden added, “We learned a lot from Matthew, and we’re much more prepared this time.”

Chrysta Carroll | Bladen Journal
At the Corner Cafe, the prevailing opinion is spoken for all of Elizabethtown.
https://www.bladenjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_florence4thur4-1.jpgChrysta Carroll | Bladen Journal
At the Corner Cafe, the prevailing opinion is spoken for all of Elizabethtown.

Chrysta Carroll | Bladen Journal
The streets of Elizabethtown, usually hustling and bustling weekday afternoons, were more like a ghost town Thursday ahead of Hurricane Florence’s arrival.
https://www.bladenjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_florence4thur3-1.jpgChrysta Carroll | Bladen Journal
The streets of Elizabethtown, usually hustling and bustling weekday afternoons, were more like a ghost town Thursday ahead of Hurricane Florence’s arrival.

National Weather Service
Models predicting seven-day totals for rain show Bladen County near the 20 inches area.
https://www.bladenjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_rainthur3pm-2.jpgNational Weather Service
Models predicting seven-day totals for rain show Bladen County near the 20 inches area.

Chrysta Carroll | Bladen Journal
The streets of Elizabethtown, usually hustling and bustling weekday afternoons, were more like a ghost town Thursday ahead of Hurricane Florence’s arrival.
https://www.bladenjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_florence4thur2-1.jpgChrysta Carroll | Bladen Journal
The streets of Elizabethtown, usually hustling and bustling weekday afternoons, were more like a ghost town Thursday ahead of Hurricane Florence’s arrival.

National Weather Service
In the 11 a.m. forecast track, Bladen County was in line for a brush from the center of Hurricane Florence. The storm is very wide and expected to bring significant rain and flooding throughout southeastern North Carolina.
https://www.bladenjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_conethur5-1.jpgNational Weather Service
In the 11 a.m. forecast track, Bladen County was in line for a brush from the center of Hurricane Florence. The storm is very wide and expected to bring significant rain and flooding throughout southeastern North Carolina.

Chrysta Carroll | Bladen Journal
The streets of Elizabethtown, usually hustling and bustling weekday afternoons, were more like a ghost town Thursday ahead of Hurricane Florence’s arrival.
https://www.bladenjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_florence4thur1-1.jpgChrysta Carroll | Bladen Journal
The streets of Elizabethtown, usually hustling and bustling weekday afternoons, were more like a ghost town Thursday ahead of Hurricane Florence’s arrival.

Chrysta Carroll and Alan Wooten

Bladen Journal

Chrysta Carroll can be reached at 910-862-4163 or ccarroll@bladenjournal.com. Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or awooten@bladenjournal.com.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached at 910-862-4163 or ccarroll@bladenjournal.com. Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or awooten@bladenjournal.com.