As the most powerful hurricane to ever be record in the Atlantic approaches the US mainland and Florida, officials with the Watauga County School system have begun measures should the storm impact the High Country.
Updates from the National Hurricane Center late Thursday and into Friday have shifted the storm to a more westerly path. With that shift, Irma could bring more intense rain and wind to the area.
Dr. Scott Elliott, Watauga County Schools Superintendent, tells WataugaOnline.com that school personnel are ready should conditions deteriorate at any point next week. Elliott says, “Our maintenance staff will spend all day Friday checking all the gutters, downspouts, and storm water grates to make sure they are ready to handle large amounts of water. We just completed large drainage repair projects at Mabel School and Blowing Rock School thanks to additional funding from our county commissioners. We know the places that routinely flood under even normal rainfall and we will be prepared with sandbags where needed. Our biggest concern is the extensive number of roof leaks in our schools. Staff will be working to prevent any damage to computers and classroom materials in those usual locations.”
Dr. Elliott went on to say that should the storm create issues related to gas availability the school system is prepared. He said,”We actually started a couple of weeks ago by topping off our fuel supplies before diesel and gas prices started to rise. We have enough diesel reserves right now to last for at least two to three weeks and gasoline to last several months. Today we will adjust our fuel truck route to make sure all buses have enough fuel without having to be refueled during the storm. Also, we will take precautions to move our trucks and other vehicles inside the garage and away from trees.”
Should Irma create an impact with power outages the school system is prepared. Elliott said, “Our refrigerated truck is fueled up and ready in the event that we lose power and have to move frozen foods from one school cafeteria to another.
And just like during winter weather and flooding during the Spring and Summer months, school officials are ready to adjust bus routes should flooding become an issue especially in the usual flood prone locations.