Hydro Ottawa crews head to North Carolina; tourists from Ottawa take shelter

The Canadian Government is advising Canadians down south to stay away from the U.S. East Coast.  That warning comes as 14 Hydro Ottawa workers make their way towards the coast in anticipation of Hurricane Florence. The Hydro Ottawa workers are powerline technicians and safety specialists, called in to deal with any impending damage.

That potential damage is worrying Ottawa residents, too, who are visiting or living in the area now and preparing for the worst.

Myrtle Beach boasts some of the best beaches and the best golf courses.  But Ottawa resident Bill Veck wouldn't know that. Two days after arriving there, he had to leave as part of the mass evacuation of this area.

“At first we were thinking, it's a category 4, maybe we can stay,” says Veck by telephone from Savannah, Georgia, “until we heard about the flooding.”

Former Ottawa residents Ed and Erin Simanskis are preparing for Florence's wrath at their home in Raleigh, North Carolina, which is two hours inland.

“We figure we're going to get hit,” says Erin Simanskis, a former reporter at CTV Ottawa who moved to North Carolina a couple of decades ago.  She says some gas stations have run out of fuel and bottled water is becoming a scarcity.

“We are filling up water bottles and so forth to make sure we've got water,” she says, “We've heard of price gouging on the price of water. People have been charged as much as $30 for two cases of bottled water, which is outrageous.  It seems some people are taking advantage of the situation.”

There are concerns, too, about losing power.  So, utility companies inlcuding Hydro Ottawa are mobilizing to help.  Fourteen workers from our city are headed right now to North Carolina to help with the aftermath of Florence.

Joseph Muglia is the Director of Operations for Hydro Ottawa, “Our team is excited about doing these kind of things because they help out the local community,” he says, “They help out individuals and store owners so definitely, there’s a lot of pride and excitement to go down.”

Coastal and hydraulic engineer Ioan Nistor at the University of Ottawa says the storm surge from Florence could severely impact the infrastructure along the coast.

“Critical infrastructure like hospitals, buildings, bridges, and houses will be affected by the storm surge,” he says, “not as much from the inundation which is significant, but due to the effect of the waves coming inland further than they would without the storm surge.”

As for Bill Veck, he's moved further inland to Georgia, leaving Myrtle Beach as a memory for now.

“The worst part is, we didn't get a round of golf in,” he laughs.

If Florence hits as anticipated, no one will be golfing at Myrtle Beach any time soon. Still, with several hours to go before landfall, Florence could fluster and peter out.