FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- This is the first real disaster in a pandemic. Cumberland County officials and residents are bracing for Isaias as the storm approaches.
Cumberland County declared a State of Emergency and has activated its Emergency Operations Center. County officials said they don't anticipate having to activate shelter locations, but if needed, shelters would be established at the Smith Rec Center and South View High School.
"This year really looks different. The way we address sheltering and EOC response. We try to encourage residents to first try to stay with family or friends if they won't feel comfortable in their home, shelter in place if they can," Cumberland County Emergency Services Director Gene Booth said.
The Salvation Army of the Sandhills mobilized to assist the homeless population during this disaster. Cots have been put out and spaced six feet apart inside the Anderson Street shelter. Officials there are ready to serve on a first-come-first-serve basis.
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"We mask, glove, spray, clean. You can see the markers on the floor. We do the best we can in situations like this," said Major Tim Grider, a representative for the Salvation Army of the Sandhills.
Isaias is expected to pack a powerful punch on the North Carolina coast with heavy rain and gusty winds reaching the Sandhills.
Public Works Commission officials are ready to implement their emergency response plan for all of their 84,000 customers at a moment's notice, and crews will stage throughout the night as they expect widespread power outages. Officials are urging residents to have patience and an emergency plan in place in case they lose power.
"Because of the virus, that's changing how our crews approach restoration. They are going to be in small groups. Might make restoration take longer than normal," Carolyn Justice-Hinson, a representative for the Public Works Commission, said.