POLICE Magazine

DEC 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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"at first day everybody was thinking the damage was minimal, and we felt a great sense of relief," says Michael Fanta, a lieutenant in the city of Wilmington just upriver from the beach cities where the storm came ashore. By the time Florence blew into Wilm- ington, a city of around 100,000 people, she was much diminished. But then came the rain. WILMINGTON Florence stalled over the southern coast of North Carolina, moving no faster than 40 POLICE DECEMBER 2018 Immediately after Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach early on the morning of Friday Sept. 14, public safety officials in the coastal cit- ies and communities of North Carolina believed they had dodged a bullet. As the storm had approached the Southeastern seaboard it had been measured with sus- tained gusts of 130 mph, a Category 4 on the overused and little understood Saffir- Simpson scale. But it hit the beach as a Category 1, a dangerous storm capable of serious damage, but not the monster that they had feared. Storm surge had flooded the beach towns and people had to be rescued. Trees were down. Power was out. But over- all, the effect wasn't nearly disastrous. Wilmington, NC, police patrolled streets with boarded up businesses before, during, and in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Florence. "ILM Strong" is a reference to Wilmington's airport code. Bourbon Street is a local restaurant. PHOTO: WILMINGTON (NC) PD PHOTO: WILMINGTON (NC) PD a slow walk of 3 to 4 mph. Within two days she had dumped as much as 40 inches of rain on the area. at might not have been so bad, but the area is crisscrossed with rivers, tributaries, and creeks, and they were already swollen by earlier summer storms. Adding to the recipe for disaster was the fact that the ground was saturated and could not absorb more water. e intensity of the rain and the fact that Florence just wouldn't leave caught many of the public safety officials by sur- prise. ey had never seen anything like this, and they hope to never see it again. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES the Storm WEATHERING HURRICANE FLORENCE'S IMPACT ON THE NORTH CAROLINA COAST STRAINED THE RESOURCES AND CAPABILITIES OF TWO CITY POLICE FORCES IN WAYS THEIR COMMANDERS DID AND DID NOT EXPECT. DAVID GRIFFITH

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