North Carolina updates StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit

Sixty percent of North Carolinians over 18 have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. shared updated public health guidance for K-12 schools to follow in the upcoming school year.

“The most important work our state will do next month is getting all our school children back into the classrooms safely for in-person learning,” said Governor Cooper. “That’s the best way for them to learn, and we want their school days to be as close to normal as possible, especially after a year of disruption.”

The updated StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit is aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics guidance, which urges that everything possible is done to keep students in schools and emphasizes continued masking. The Toolkit says schools with students in kindergarten through eighth grade should require all children and staff to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Schools with students in 9th through 12th grades should ensure that anyone who isn’t fully vaccinated, including students, wear a mask indoors.

This guidance is effective July 30th and local school leaders are responsible for requiring and implementing protocols in the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit in consultation with their local health departments.

The Toolkit also updates additional measures for schools related to quarantining after COVID exposure, physical distancing, testing, transportation, cleaning, and other considerations.

State health officials continue to urge unvaccinated people to follow CDC and NCDHHS guidance and wear a mask indoors. When Executive Order 220 expires at the end of July, North Carolina businesses and other entities where masks are required will make their own decisions about requiring masks, with strong guidance provided by NCDHHS. Everyone, regardless of vaccine status, should still wear a mask in certain places such as public transportation and healthcare facilities.

“Get vaccinated right now if you haven’t. We are seeing the impact of the very contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 and it’s hitting those who are unvaccinated hard,” said Secretary Cohen. “Schools need to use the additional safety protocols outlined in the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit to continue to protect students and staff as we enter the new school year.”

To date, North Carolina has administered more than 9.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 56 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated. Sixty percent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, including 86 percent of people 65 and over.

Learn more about the state’s vaccine distribution at myspot.nc.gov (English) or Vacunate.nc.gov (Spanish). Details on the Your Shot at $1 Million Summer Cash Drawing can be found at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/summervaxcash. Use NCDHHS’ online tool Find a Vaccine Location to find a nearby vaccine site. Call the state’s COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 888-675-4567.

Read the updated StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit.

Does your hurricane preparedness plan include your pets?

Here is a handy checklist of items you may need for your pet

Your family hurricane preparedness kit includes water for the entire family, but did you include water for the family pet(s)?

Water, medication, and the family pet’s important papers are needed as well. It’s a lot to think about in a time of disaster, so prepare now for the safety of your animals.

disaster-prep-pet-emergency-checklist
ready_pet-preparedness-flyer

 

Bentfield named new Pender County Fire Marshal

PENDER COUNTY – Pender County Emergency Management recently announced the hiring of Robert Bentfield as the new Fire Marshal, a position vacated when Tommy Batson was named the Pender County Emergency Director.

Bentfield, a Pender County resident, joined the Wilmington Fire Department in March 1998. He is a trained firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician. He served as a Master Firefighter and was transferred to the Fire Marshal’s office to perform fire safety inspections and fire investigations. In 2021 he was promoted to the rank of Captain.

Bentfield, who had obtained his North Carolina Fire Inspector Level III designation as well securing the title of International Association of Arson Investigators Fire Investigation Technician (IAAI FIT), decided in 2015 to return to college to obtain a degree in Fire Science.

“Robert brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role of Fire Marshal for our county,” said Tommy Batson, Pender County Emergency Manager.

“As a resident of Pender County, I look forward to serving the residents and business owners of Pender County,” said Bentfield.

Bentfield is responsible for Plan Reviews for construction projects, construction inspections, building safety inspections, foster care inspections, fire education, citizen complaints, fire investigations, and assists the Emergency Management Director when needed.

A native of Michigan, Bentfield served in the US Marine Corps. He is married to his wife, Jamie. The couple has two sons, Jamison, and Jaxson. They are members of Scotts Hill Baptist Church.

The Pender County Fire Marshal may be reached at the Pender County Emergency Operations Center at 910-259-1210.

 

Pender County reports progress on floodplain management

BURGAW – Pender County Floodplain Administrator Daniel Adams reported progress on the county’s 34-point mitigation action strategies identified in the Hazard Mitigation Plan.

“Last year Pender County joined the Community Rating System (CRS), which is a FEMA program that provides discounts to flood insurance policyholders in the county for various creditable activities completed by staff,” said Adams. “Each year we have to recertify that we’re continuing to complete the creditable activities that earn points towards those policy discounts.”

One of those activities is a progress report on mitigation action strategies that were identified in the Hazard Mitigation Plan related to floodplain management and providing information to the public.

“We continue to work on all 34 points identified in the Hazard Mitigation Plan,” said Adams.

Among the items in the progress report was the county’s provision to provide information regarding floodplain mapping to help citizens better understand flood risk for their property or a property they may be interested in purchasing.

“We provide this service in person and online,” Adams said.

The Planning Department has two Certified Floodplain Managers on staff who can assist citizens with floodplain development or flood insurance-related questions.

Pender County applies for all available funding from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) to assist with the mitigation of severe repetitive loss properties to relocate or remove structures from the floodplain. Pender County submitted 264 applications for property owner assistance under HMGP Matthew and HMGP Florence to mitigate each of these structures from future flood events.

Adams said the progress report is available on the county’s website, www.pendercountync.gov.

Activity 510 - Annual Progress Report Memo

Pender County Emergency Management prepares for Tropical Storm Elsa

PENDER COUNTY – Tropical Storm Elsa will impact the Pender County region tomorrow and into Thursday evening, according to the latest forecast from the National Weather Service.

“On its current track Tropical Storm Elsa has the potential to produce heavy rainfall, flooding, isolated tornadoes, and dangerous rip currents as early as Wednesday night through Thursday evening,” said Tommy Batson, Pender County Emergency Manager.

“We urge all residents to use caution and be prepared for possible power outages and localized flooding,” he said.

Tropical Storm Elsa has the potential to spawn tornadoes. Residents are urged to stay alert to local weather stations. Residents who have not signed up for the CodeRed alert system, register for free at https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/9FB534DFBC93 or call 910-259-1210 for details.

“If a tornado warning occurs in your area, seek shelter in the interior of your home,” said Batson. “Be sure to secure all pets as well.”

Some streets in Pender County are prone to flooding. Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Roadbeds may be washed out under flood waters.

“Never drive through flooded roadways,” said Batson. “You don’t know the condition of the road under the water. Turn Around Don’t Drown is more than a cliché. It is an important warning to heed.”

Tropical Storm Elsa also has the potential of creating dangerous rip currents. Rip currents are channeled currents of water flowing away from shore at surf beaches. They typically extend from near the shoreline, through the surf zone and past the line of breaking waves.

“Rip currents speeds vary, but at 5 mph, a rip current moves faster than an Olympic swimmer,” said Batson.

“It is the hurricane season,” said Batson. “Residents should review your personal emergency plan and know your evacuation routes.

Check your emergency supply kit, which should contain food, water, prescription medicines, charging cords, batteries, and other essentials to support your family for several days. Be sure to plan for elderly relatives and pets. And make certain your insurance is up-to-date.”

For more information, read our Pender County Emergency Management website, https://www.pendercountync.gov/em/

or our Facebook page.

Applications period opens July 1 for $79.6 million hurricane disaster relief program for poultry and livestock, plasticulture and forestry producers

Program focuses on losses suffered from Hurricanes Florence, Michael and Dorian

RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has received a $79.6 million USDA block grant to assist producers and woodland owners in 90 counties who suffered losses in 2018-2019 from Hurricanes Florence, Michael, and Dorian. The application period runs from July 1 to Oct. 1.

This program will offer direct payments to eligible poultry/livestock and plasticulture producers. Assistance will only involve losses associated with these hurricanes that were not covered under other USDA disaster programs.

This program will also offer technical and financial assistance to woodland owners in the emergency-declared counties that were affected by these hurricanes. Comprehensive forest management plans will be offered to those landowners in order to assess the storm impacts to their woodlands and identify beneficial management recommendations.

“Eligibility requirements differ significantly between the agricultural and forestry categories of this block grant,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “I would encourage farmers and forest owners who think they may be eligible to check the online links for the agricultural applications or contact their local N.C. Forest Service County Ranger Office for the ‘Woodland Recovery’ component.”

Poultry/livestock and plasticulture producers will need a current and completed IRS W9 form ready to scan into the application. Additionally, growers are encouraged to research and gather any evidence of poultry/swine structure damage and any damage evidence for plasticulture and greenhouses from those specific storms. They should be prepared to scan documents into the application for consideration of payment.

Details about the “Woodland Recovery” program will be available beginning mid-July by contacting a local N.C. Forest Service County Ranger’s office. A list of contacts can be found at https://www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts/contacts_main.htm

For more information, including links to the poultry/livestock and plasticulture applications, visit www.ncagr.gov/agriculturaldisasterprogram or call 1-919-707-3362.

Burning ban lifted June 2, 5 p.m.

The Pender County Fire Marshal announced the lifting of the County burning ban effective today, June 2,
2021.

Effective at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 2, 2021 the Pender County Fire Marshal Office has lifted a ban on all open
burning for Pender. The burn ban went into effect May 24 due to hazardous forest fire conditions in the
county. Recent rainfall the county has decreased the fire danger threat in the county. We are forecasted to
receive more rain over the next few days. Residents should burn responsibly if they choose to burn.
Before burning, make sure you have should obtain a permit from the NCFS if you are more than 100 ft from a
resident. Check the weather before burning and never leave a fire unattended.

Fire officials recommend that anyone burning have resources immediately available to control their fire. Those
resources include water hoses, buckets of water, and hand tools. Should a fire become out of control,
individuals need to immediately contact the local fire department for assistance by calling 911.

The lifting of the burning ban will allow for individuals to utilize open burning for the disposal of vegetative debris
that has been generated on their property. This includes items such as leaves, straw, lawn clippings,
shrubbery clippings, and sticks and branches. Garbage, lumber, building materials, and rubber are never
allowed to be burned. These items must be disposed of at solid waste convenience sites located throughout
the county.

Persons needing more information about open burning regulations in Pender County can contact the Pender
County Fire Marshal at 910-259-1210 or the Pender County Headquarters for the NC Division of Forest
Resources at 910-259-7251.

Lingering smoke near Hampstead

Smoke expected along Highway17 near Hampstead Sunday night, possibly lingering for several days

HAMPSTEAD – There is potential for hazardous road conditions Sunday night and possibly for the next several days due to smoke from the Lea Crest Fire near Hampstead. Smoke is expected to settle at ground level after dark and will likely remain until after the sun and temperatures rise tomorrow morning. The area of concern is along Highway 17 between Highway 210 and Country Club Drive. Communities in the area should expect to see and smell smoke in the air.

All citizens are urged to avoid this area if possible or allow extra time and use caution if travel is necessary.

Pender County issues Burning Ban

BURGAW- Pender County Fire Marshal’s Office has issued a Burning Ban effected on Monday, May 24, at noon. This is a result of extreme dry conditions across the area.

“Pender County has seen a rise in the number of outside fires that are requiring extensive manpower and equipment for containment,” said Tommy Batson, Pender County Emergency Manager. “The area has received little, to no rainfall in the past few weeks. Additionally, the forecasted highs this week in are expected in the 90’s with no rain in sight.”

During the past two weeks as warmer, drier weather patterns have continued across southeastern North Carolina the fire danger has grown higher, and in some cases extreme, especially in the coastal counties.  The chance for stronger winds and very low humidity does not help for fire control operations.

The citizens of Pender County are urged to do everything possible to minimize the risk of fire during this period.

This restriction shall extend outward from all residential structures 100 feet.  This proclamation does not prohibit outdoor charcoal or gas grills provided precautions are taken to prevent fire from escaping those appliances.

According to the North Carolina Forestry Service, under North Carolina law, the ban prohibits all open burning in affected counties, regardless of whether a permit was previously issued. The issuance of new permits is suspended until the ban is lifted. Anyone violating the burn ban faces a $100 fine plus $180 court costs.

 

Water and fire safety urged for Pender County residents

BURGAW – Technically it is still spring, but this week, summer weather will arrive in Southeastern North Carolina.
 
“We are currently in a slight drought period,” said Tommy Batson, Pender County Emergency Manager. “At this time, we urge two things – conserve water and be cautious when practicing outside burning.”
 
Sitting around a fire pit is fun, but residents are urged to make sure fires are completely extinguished.
 
“Never leave a fire unattended,” said Batson. “In drought conditions, sparks can easily lead to wildfires. Douse the embers with water before walking away from an outdoor wood fire.”
 
Water conservation is the next concern during a drought.
 
“We urge the public to conserve water wisely,” said Kenny Keel, Pender County Utilities Director. “By utilizing small practices, such as turning off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving and repairing leaking faucets, you can reduce water usage.”
 
According to The Water Project, lawns and gardens require only .02 inches of water per day during warm weather.
 
“Water lawns every three to five days rather than for short periods every day,” he suggested. “Never overwater. This damages plants and our soils do not store extra water.”
 
Keel said for additional conservation tips, visit the county’s website at https://www.pendercountync.gov/utl/water-conservation-tips/.
“We urge our residents to enjoy the natural resources in Pender County,” said Batson. “Practice fire prevention and water conservation throughout the year, but especially in periods of drought.”
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