“Be prepared” is the resounding message from local fire departments, emergency medical services, National Guard, and other sources of safety information around Lake Gaston ahead of Hurricane Dorian. 

“We’re going to keep our fingers crossed and hope it stays away from us,” said Longbridge Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bruce Dunlevy. “One major concern is forced water and seeing the water level rise. It’s important to keep boats tied down tight.”

Dunlevy also said that downed trees are more common during this type of storm than anything else. His fire department is ready to get roads cleared quickly. 

“Depending on how the storm comes in, we’ll ride the district, ” he said. “There is always someone traveling. As long as people call us, we’ll get out and take care of it.”

Ed Burke of Flotilla 9-3 stressed the importance of securing not only boats, but rafts, floats, canoes, kayaks and paddle boards. 

“A lot of those smaller vessels aren’t registered,” he said. “Lake Gaston Outfitters and some of the local marinas have vessel identification stickers available. That can help recover something that comes loose and blows away during a storm.”

On Tuesday, the National Weather Service website indicated that North Carolina would likely experience Dorian’s impact late today (Wednesday) into Friday morning. According to current projections, much of the area could experience winds of between 15 and 25 miles per hour with gusts of 25-35 mph and 1-2 inches of rain. However, the lake region could experience sustained winds between 25 and 35 mph with gusts between 35 and 45 mph, and 2-4 inches of rain.

Warren County Emergency Services Director Dennis Paschall urges local residents to take precautions now to be ready for potential impacts from Hurricane Dorian later this week.

Paschall recommends that local residents listen to Gov. Roy Cooper’s briefings and download the ReadyNC app, part of the N.C. Department of Public Safety. The app may be downloaded through readync.org for information such as road conditions, power outages, emergency shelters and emergency kit preparation. Paschall noted that people should take their pets into consideration when gathering items for emergency kits.

Ready NC recommends that emergency kits should include the following:

-- Water-1 gallon per person per day for three to seven days

-- Non-perishable and canned food supply for three to seven days

-- Battery-powered or hand crank radio, and weather radio with extra batteries

-- Cellphone with charger

-- Flashlight and extra batteries

-- Manual can opener

-- Anti-bacterial hand wipes or gel

-- Wrench or pliers to turn off water

-- One blanket or sleeping bag per person

-- Prescription medications and glasses

-- Seasonal change of clothing, including sturdy shoes

-- Toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine supplies

-- Extra house and car keys

-- Important documents (insurance policies, copy of driver’s license, Social Security card, bank account records)

-- Fire extinguisher

-- Cash and change

-- Books, games or cards

NC Ready recommends that the following be included in an emergency supplies kit for pets:

-- Canned or dry pet food

-- Water for three to seven days

-- Food dishes

-- Muzzle, collar and leash

-- Immunization records

-- Identification tag

-- Current photos of pets in case they become lost

-- Pet’s medicine

-- Pet beds and toys

-- Pet carrier

Paschall said that even though Dorian’s track is uncertain, Warren County residents should take the storm seriously and be prepared for wind gusts that could down trees, causing power outages. He also warned people not to drive across flooded roads.

“Turn around, don’t drown,” Paschall said.

Luci Weldon with The Warren Record contributed to this report.