City of New Bern explains how it's preparing for major storms


NEW BERN, Craven County - Hurricane season ends in three weeks but New Bern's history of flooding has officials working all season long.

The old saying is when it rains, it pours. In New Bern, when it pours, it often floods. So the question remains, how ready is the city for a potential superstorm like we've seen recently. Those questions and more were part of a discussion in Thursday's meeting on the city's preparedness.

"Leaders of the city do not take protecting our community lightly and we are willing to give a 110 percent for preparation," said New Bern fire chief Robert Boyd.

That's reassuring words for the people at Thursday's meeting, including Michael Schachter.

"I have been here during some of the hurricanes, especially the big ones ... Floyd and Bertha, a little scary that's for sure," Schachter said.

That's exactly why during the meeting, a representative from city utilty, the city engineer and the city fire chief were present. The hope was to erase those fears. Officials said thanks to upgrades in technology and the area's geographic information systems representative (GIS), the city is much more prepared.

"If you wanted to say we are going to have a five-foot surge she can quickly put a map together for me to tell me what part of the town would be inundated," Boyd said.

Along with new technology, officials said they are continuing to learn from past and present experiences in both the area around them and the country, too.

"If I knew I was going to have flooding in this area, it's going to take X-amount of people to go into the area a lot of times, X-amount of times to get out," Boyd said. "'What do I need, what happens if I have two areas of flooding?' So now, that allows me to go to a state and say 'hey can you provide me some national guard people'?"

Boyd said he's been in contact with many fire chiefs statewide, learning frequently about better ways to handle certain emergency situations. So if a superstorm ever happens locally, the city will be ready.

City officials also said they plan on holding more meetings about strategies for potential emergency situations.