NCDOT prepares for hurricane season in Eastern Carolina

KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) — With hurricane season underway, the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is making sure it’s ready for emergencies. Covering seven eastern Carolina counties, NCDOT Division 2 preps each year at the start of the season.

“We stage up usually around the first of May or June and do one big prep for hurricane season,” said Chris Blizzard, Transportation Supervisor 2.

This annual preparation ensures that NCDOT’s equipment is ready for emergencies. “First and foremost, it’s always our personal protective equipment. We get that ready, then we get our chainsaws ready in case there are trees, our barricades, our high water signs, our trailers, and trucks,” Blizzard said.

Workers are also prepped to be on standby. “We tell those guys to get their things ready. They may have to be out here for 24 hours. It’s happened before,” said Jay Sutton, County Maintenance Engineer.

When a hurricane or tropical storm hits North Carolina, NCDOT is prepared to respond in various conditions. “The only time we go in is when the wind is above our threshold where guys will be unsafe. Other than that, we’re gonna be out in it,” said Sutton.

This work ensures public safety. “We’ll go out, check out the scene, and see what roads need to be closed. Get the best detour route,” Blizzard said.

Eastern North Carolina has faced several storms in the past, affecting local businesses like the one owned by Joe Hargitt. “The building had to be emptied out, vacated, take everything out of it, and then put it back together again and clean everything up,” Hargitt said.

NCDOT employees monitor the weather closely as storms approach, knowing when to start working on the roads. They remind drivers to heed barricades or closed roads and to always turn around if encountering flooded roadways.