By Nathan Ham
Residents in the High Country are beginning to make their final preparations for the upcoming heavy rains and wind that will be hitting the area from what is left of Hurricane Florence.
Rainfall totals are estimated to range anywhere from 6-12 inches across areas of the High Country with the eastern parts of the Blue Ridge seeing the highest totals, according to the most recent forecast from Ray’s Weather Center.
Precision Printing along Blowing Rock Road in Boone has started stacking sandbags in front of the building in preparation for the possible flooding.
Employees at New River Building Supply have been busy selling sandbags as well as generators and gas cans which have all been in high demand over the past couple of days. As of 4 p.m. they still had roughly 100 sandbags left. New River Building Supply is also open on Saturdays until noon for anyone that might need some last-minute supplies.
Watauga County Emergency Management announced earlier on Friday that Alliance Bible Fellowship, located at 1035 Highway 105 Bypass in Boone, will be used as a shelter for residents in the county, opening at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Emergency management also sent out a reminder to residents about the possible landslide potential that will greatly increase as the rain and wind arrives. Individuals living on steep slopes and within small valleys that slopes drain into should be aware of their surroundings and be prepared to leave the area.
The Hospitality House of Boone is also prepared to offer shelter to individuals and families displaced by the storm, according to a post on their Facebook Page.
“People will lose ground. People who were struggling to make ends meet may lose their margin of stability, increasing the need for services,” the post said. “When a disaster strikes, persons experiencing homelessness have little or no resources to evacuate or shelter in place, stockpile food and access medications.”
The post continues on adding that the Hospitality House is a certified disaster relief facility and could be called upon by the Red Cross to offer shelter.
Over in Ashe County, an emergency shelter will be set up at the high school and will be opened by 1 p.m. on Saturday. The shelter was originally going to open on Sunday, however changing forecast models prompted Ashe County Emergency Management to set up the shelter a day earlier.
Several areas in the High Country have already declared a State of Emergency ahead of the storm including Ashe, Watauga and Avery counties. Seven Devils mayor Larry Fontaine also enacted a State of Emergency for the town. The Ashe County towns of West Jefferson, Jefferson and Lansing have all already declared a state of emergency.
The pending rainfall has also canceled several events across the High Country this weekend. Appalachian State University’s first home game of the season against Southern Miss was postponed. The Blowing Rock Music Festival was rescheduled for October 7. The West Jefferson Antiques Fair was rescheduled for October 5-6 The final event with a confirmed reschedule date is the Jimmy Smith Maranon which has been moved to October 19. The Sparta Heritage Festival and the Overmountain Victory Celebration has been canceled and has not been rescheduled. One event that is still going Friday and Saturday are the final two days of the On the Same Page Literary Festival in Ashe County. Keynote Speaker and United States Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith, was unable to make it for the event but is hoping to reschedule and return to Ashe County next month to give her keynote address.
The Blue Ridge Parkway will also close at 8 p.m. on Friday until further notice. No hiking or biking will be allowed. Grandfather Mountain is also closing its gates on Sunday.