Polk Swift Water Rescue on standby, severe weather batters county


North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Michael. 

The announcement comes just weeks after Florence battered parts of North Carolina’s coast. 

Parts of Western North Carolina, including Polk County, have not had a break from severe weather since the floods and mudslides in May. Now, first responders are gearing up and mobilizing teams as Hurricane Michael nears the Tar Heel state. 

“Here is all of our gear,” said Swift Water Team Tech Dylan Priester as he showed our 7News crew some of the equipment in the Polk County Swift Water Rescue Team’s trailer. 

Priester took out the team’s newest lifesaving tool to show our crew.

“This is our drone,” he said. “We can send a lifebuoy on it and it can actually go out, and drop it or a radio or anything like that.” 

For now the drone is grounded, while Emergency Management officials monitor the Hurricane’s path. Emergency Management Director Bobby Arledge says if Michael stays on its project path, it’ll be the latest storm to cripple Polk County. 

In the Spring, deadly mudslides and flooding devastated Western North Carolina and just last month the area dealt with heavy rain and strong winds from Tropical Storm Florence. 

“Right now, what they’ve told us… 3 to 5 inches [of rain] here in the county,” Arledge told 7News. “Which since May, it doesn’t take a lot of rain for instability [for] mudslide and anything like that.” 

Arledge says the continous severe weather events have exhausted area first responders, but with Hurricane season well underway they can’t let their guard down now.

“All of our fire departments are pretty much manning their stations and keeping an eye on the areas… their respective districts.” Arledge said. 

The Emergency Management Director ask that if you live in an area prone to mudslides you prepare your emergency kits and families, in case you are asked to evacuate.

Arledge says in preparation for the rain, Lake Adger has been lowered 3 feet. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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