Venango County Natives Making Preparation for Impact of Hurricane Florence

| September 15, 2018

GREENSBORO, North Carolina (EYT) – Although Venango County may be a distance from the coastal areas taking the brunt of this fall’s tropical storms, some former area natives found themselves in the path of nature’s most recent force of destruction, Hurricane Florence.

(Pictured, left to right: Captain Courts, Firefighter Larson, Captain Roberson, Assistant Chief Tim Henshaw, Captain Jackson, Firefighter Walker, and Firefighter Stultz)

Tim Henshaw (pictured above fourth from left) is a former Rocky Grove resident currently living in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he is an Assistant Fire Chief at City of Greensboro Fire Department.

According to Henshaw, as of Friday afternoon, the Greensboro area hadn’t seen many of the storm’s direct effects yet.

Henshaw told exploreVenango.com, “There are wind gusts of up to 30 miles per hour, but not a constant wind. Right now, it’s just like a bad storm: it rains and then stops. The worst of it should be Saturday through to Sunday here.”

Henshaw, being a first responder, has been in the thick of their department’s preparations for the storm over the last few days.

“We have our EOC (emergency operations center) open now. Basically, it’s ready for any kind emergency we have beyond normal scope. We have three shelters open in the county for refugees coming off the coast who can’t find a hotel. We have also deployed our swift water team to the coast.”

He said that the agencies in the region have been joined by other agencies from all over the country in preparation for the massive storm.

“There are lots of agencies out there, FDNY, Los Angeles County, agencies from Ohio, New Jersey, and so many more. There are over 400 federally deployed staff right now.”

EMS Units staging in Garner, N.C. Photo courtesy of Lee Wilson.

“It’s a powerful thing to see us all together for one cause.”

According to Henshaw, through contact earlier Friday with friends and other agencies further to the south, he was already hearing stories of serious flooding and other hurricane-related issues.

“The flood waters are immense down there. They are being pounded with constant rain and water. There have been numerous rescues already,” he said.

Radio and cell phone communications started going down in many of the areas to the south by Friday afternoon, though, and Henshaw and his department were left in the dark about how things were proceeding.

“Communication is basically very little at this point, we’ve kind of lost track of everyone for the next few hours,” he said.

While Henshaw and other first responders were preparing to do what they could to help residents in need during the storms, residents who chose to ride out the storm were hunkering down, waiting to see what how bad it would get.

Betty Shaw, formerly of Oil City, told exploreVenango.com that her family has some experience with hurricanes, having ridden out Hurricane Matthew two years ago.

They currently live in Darlington, South Carolina, located about 55 miles from the coast.

Betty Shaw and her husband, Donnie.

“We housed our neighbor and her babies during it. We cooked over 40 pounds of chicken to feed our neighbors because it was hard for people that didn’t have generators. We had no power for a week at least.”

“We had a lot of trees down power lines down on the road and a lot of bridges were out. We fed a lot of people at my church. People had a lot of house damages and cars that trees fell on.”

“It was very sad, but we all stuck together. We went and helped people clean their yards with tree rubble and debris. We all stuck together and were there for one another.”

As of Friday evening, Shaw said her area was getting some strong wind and heavy rain, and there were some power outages nearby. Her local forecast was calling for over twenty inches of rain by Sunday, and her area was under a curfew, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Friday and ending at 7:00 a.m. Saturday.

Shaw credits her work with her church’s ministry, Warming Hearts, which does a lot of community outreach and charitable work, as one of the reasons they chose not to evacuate.

“The ministry was a huge factor in us staying to help and lend a hand wherever needed.”


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