NC EMS reflects on Hurricane Matthew response

One county received over 2,500 calls in a three-day period during and after the hurricane


By Olivia Neeley
The Wilson Daily Times

WILSON COUNTY, N.C. — More than 530 Wilson County residents registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance after Hurricane Matthew, officials say.

Gordon Deno, Wilson County Emergency Management director, gave county commissioners a Hurricane Matthew overview Monday night during their regular meeting.

FEMA opened its disaster recovery center in Wilson on Oct. 15 for those who suffered extensive damage as a result of the storm. Deno said the 530-plus individuals FEMA assisted received more than $640,000 disbursement in funds countywide.

Wilson was one of many counties that received a federal disaster declaration and will also receive reimbursement for response and recovery resources used during and immediately after the storm.

Deno said officials are moving forward in the process of recouping funds used for the city, county and small towns.

He also said the 911 Communications Center received 2,500 calls for service over the three-day period during and after Hurricane Matthew.

“That’s a lot of work,” Deno told commissioners, adding that first responders answered the calls with professionalism and excellence. He said all the entities involved during the storm “performed extremely well.”

Deno said there were roughly 230 water rescues performed during the height of the storm, most of which were vehicles rescues and getting people out of houses that were threatened by water.

More than 1,100 tons of vegetation was taken to the Wilson County landfill in the first two weeks after Hurricane Matthew, county officials said recently. Annually, the landfill takes in 9,000 tons of debris and vegetation.

Two people were also killed in Wilson County as a result of moving water in the roadways. Their vehicles were swept away, officials said. Deno said Hurricane Matthew brought 58 mph winds and up to 15 inches of rain in some portions of Wilson County.

Deno said the county’s emergency management also loaned equipment to harder-hit counties — including the county’s mobile pet shelter, which is still being used in Edgecombe County.

Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Bobbie Jones and Commissioner Rob Boyette commended the efforts by all personnel who worked during the storm, including EMS, emergency management, law enforcement, city officials and volunteer fire departments.

“We appreciate everything that was done,” Jones said.

Deno said it was all about teamwork.

Denise O’Hara, executive director of the Healthcare Foundation of Wilson, gave commissioners an overview and update on the recent investment of $1.3 million for 19 grant initiatives.

Those initiatives are focused on solutions to some of Wilson’s greatest health challenges, she said.

“We are committed to investing in projects that focus on effectively influencing and supporting healthier living among residents in the greater Wilson community,” O’Hara said. “In less than three months since funding the 19 different grant projects, we are already seeing promising steps forward and the launch of several initiatives to seek solutions and create change.”

The Healthcare Foundation of Wilson prioritizes grant funding for projects that focus on sustainable solutions with measurable outcomes to address four of the community’s greatest health concerns, including adolescent pregnancy ($105,600), alcohol and substance abuse ($150,000), obesity ($965,900) and sexually transmitted diseases ($105,600), officials said.

O’Hara also recognized Dr. Leesa Lawrence, who is retiring and has served as a board member for the Healthcare Foundation of Wilson Board of Directors and the DLP Joint Venture Holding Company of Board of Governors.

Dr. George Isaacs has been appointed by the board to serve as the physician representation on the DLP Joint Venture Board of Governors. That was presented to commissioners also Monday for certification. Isaacs has served on the Healthcare Foundation of Wilson’s board since 2014.

A public hearing was also set for two franchise requests: UNC Rex — Raleigh, for cath lab coverage at Wilson Medical Center, and Coastal Medical Transport, Inc for private non-emergency transport service requests.

The public hearing is set for 7 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Miller Road county administration building.

Copyright 2016 The Wilson Daily Times

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