ASHEBORO — Preliminary reports show that fallen trees caused much of the damage in Randolph County by the remnants of Hurricane Ian.
Emergency Services Chief Donovan Davis updated the Randolph County Board of Commissioners on Oct. 3 of Ian’s effects as it passed through on Sept. 30-Oct. 1. He said Ian’s center appeared to have passed directly over Asheboro as a post-tropical storm.
As the storm approached on Friday, Sept. 30, commission chair Darrell Frye issued a state of emergency for the county. That activated the county’s Emergency Operations Center at the Emergency Services Center.
Davis said 487 calls were answered by 911 operators, with 31 directed toward Emergency Medical Services, 13 of which were for transportation, and 174 to the county’s fire departments. Fire departments and the local Department of Transportation office took more than 300 calls while law enforcement agencies received 109 calls. Davis said 200 calls were transferred to the Emergency Operations Center.
Normally for that time period, the county receives between 400-500 calls overall.
Perhaps the most serious call was for a tree that fell on a house with a man inside needing to be extricated. He was checked out and released. Davis said there were 15 calls for trees falling on houses.
Four homeless persons had sought shelter under a bridge that spans Deep River, Davis said. With fears of rising waters, emergency personnel took them to temporary shelter in a hotel.
Randolph County staff will now be collecting data to determine approximate damages from the storm. Those figures will be sent to the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) for possible returns on damages. Davis said there must be more than $600,000 in damages to qualify for grants.
After Davis’s report, Frye then rescinded his state of emergency proclamation.
In other business, the commissioners:
• Learned from Derek Kelly of NorthState Communications, now called Lumos, that Randolph County will receive $4 million to expand fiber optics for internet services in certain areas. The GREAT grant from the state requires a $50,000 local match.
The grant was announced by NC Gov. Roy Cooper, who said $206 million will be apportioned to 69 counties for upgrades. Randolph Communications has applied for another grant for fiber optics expansion.
• Received a report on the Critical Incident Stress Management program for Emergency Services personnel.
Christie McCorquodale of Emergency Management told the commissioners that first responders such as emergency medical technicians are five times more likely to experience depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Regardless, she said, 7 in 10 first responders say they are hesitant to use mental health services. Reasons given are fear of negative repercussions for seeking help and fear of being demoted or fired.
Randolph County Emergency Services Critical Incident Stress Management was created 20 years ago, McCorquodale said, specializing in first responders. “However, our team wants to take it a step further,” she said. “The members of the Randolph County Emergency Services CISM team are collaborating with DSS (Department of Social Services) and Public Health to create a peer-to-peer program in their departments.”
She added that the Sheriff’s Office has its own peer-to-peer program and several county agencies are collaborating to start a Randolph County CISM Board to serve as an advisory committee and resource for training and guidance.
“Our first responders see things that no one should ever have to see,” McCorquodale said. “CISM allows us the ability to pull those affected by a traumatic event in and triage their mental health soon after the event. It is a program that is built on the foundation of confidentiality.”
The CISM program’s goal is early detection, activation of the team, suppression of negative feelings, prevention of burnout and encouragement of personnel wellbeing.
• Approved resolutions to abolish four fire service districts and create new districts without the 15-cent cap on the fire tax. The four districts are Bennett, Seagrove, Southwest and Ulah. The board set Dec. 5 for a public hearing on each district.
• Heard an update on construction at the Randolph County Detention Center. The contractor, Bordeaux Construction, has experienced multiple security items causing a loss of 48 days to the schedule and use of a large portion of the owner contingency funds.
Bordeaux asked for a 48-day extension to the construction schedule and another $100,000 to the contingency fund. The board approved both requests.
• Agreed to transfer funds from the Trinity Middle School construction project to the Northwest Randolph Human Services Center Capital Project.
Finance Officer Will Massie said the middle school project came in under budget with $200,000 already having been transferred to the general fund. The board voted to transfer $1,935,482 to the Northwest Randolph project.
• Approved the proposed schedule of values, standards and rules for the 2023 reappraisal of all real property in the county.
Debra Hill, tax administrator, said the schedule of values, standards and rules is to reflect the true value in money (market value) as defined in state law. She said the “appraisal staff has spent much time analyzing sales data, market trends, and conducting cost studies and gathering income information. All of this data was used to develop the 2023 Schedule of Values.”