Hurricanes, storms, and mobility

Courtesy NC Department of Public Safety, September 5, 2019

As of this afternoon, Hurricane Dorian is lashing the coastline of the two Carolinas, wreaking various degrees of havoc in southeastern N.C. while causing school cancellations and early dismissals here as precautionary and preparedness measures. Significant weather-related impacts to transportation, home, property, and commerce are a definite in coastal North Carolina and certainly possible here.

Living in North Carolina for a quarter century, I have seen my share of storms, starting with Hurricane Fran in 1996, which almost appeared to follow I-40 from New Hanover County to Raleigh. I was in graduate school at NC State at the time and learned first-hand the impact of storms on our transportation network. Streets were flooded, fallen trees made roads impassable, power lines blocked various arteries — and the community came together.

Fast forward to last September, and I-40 itself was underwater due to Hurricane Matthew, with posted detours requesting through travelers to literally bypass our entire state.

I have no idea if hurricanes are becoming more frequent or intense for our region and state — due to climate change, natural cycles, bad luck, or something else — but I do recognize that a resilient mobility network coupled with effective traffic and emergency operations and communications can be invaluable in preparedness as well as surviving a storm.

As members of the business community, we can help our public sector partners, first responders, electric linesmen, and so on by communicating vital information in a timely and effective fashion to our associates and employees. We can encourage telecommuting when storms are likely and leave or arrive at times when traffic burdens may be lessened — you can view current travel conditions using NCDOT’s “Drive NC” map here.

To the extent we can stay off the roads completely during major storm impact periods, that will free up space for emergency and operational personnel to get to where they are going, delivering supplies, restoring power, and just getting all of us back to normal.

More information from Hurricane Dorian can be found on this page from the NC Department of Public Safety:

Stay safe, and thank you for your commitment to the future of this region.

Joe Milazzo II, PE
RTA Executive Director

RTA is the voice of the regional business community on transportation

post reference: th3.2019.36

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