Hurricane Irma FAQ
Will Brunswick County cut off my water? If so, when?
Brunswick County will only cut off water to a community if the mayor of that community declares a mandatory evacuation. Even then, Brunswick County Public Utilities will not completely turn off water until such time as it is unsafe for staff to remain at these locations. If a less intense storm is anticipated, it may only be necessary to limit the flow to beach communities while still maintaining a minimum pressure. Any such decision is made jointly with officials in that town, based on storm decisions as they occur. Our goal is to maintain water availability throughout the storm, only shutting off water service to vulnerable beach communities well after a mandatory evacuation is declared in order to protect the integrity of the system in an effort to maintain both fire protection and potable (drinkable) water supplies.
If I evacuate, should I turn off my water?
Shutting off water to individual houses, especially those on the ocean front, may provide some level of protection if plumbing pipes are damaged during the storm. However, care should be taken when this is done. Some household appliances, such as water heaters, require water to operate properly and may be damaged if left powered on without a water supply. Therefore, homeowners should consider powering off (shutting off appropriate breakers) if they choose to turn off the water at their house. The homeowner should use their home’s private shut-off valve to the plumbing system to turn the water off; County equipment and valves in the meter box should not be tampered with. There is electronic equipment in the meter box that may easily be damaged by unauthorized personnel. It is worth noting that if a storm dictates that a Mandatory Evacuation be proclaimed for a community, Brunswick County will either limit the pressure or shut-off the water to the community immediately prior to the storm impact.
Will my grinder tank fill up during a storm?
This is very unlikely. A typical Grinder tank installed by Brunswick County has over 360 gallons of capacity above the point that the alarm comes on. Most single-family residential houses use much less water than that during a typical day when showers, washers, dishwashers, etc are being used. During a storm event where power is lost, water usage is reduced considerably. Usually, showers, washers, dishwashers, etc are not used when the power is out thus extending the time it takes to fill the grinder tank.
What if the power stays out for an extended period after a storm?
During previous storm events, some areas of Brunswick County were without power for several days. The grinder tanks had enough capacity for this time period without overflows occurring. However, in the event of an extended time period without power, Brunswick County has the ability to use vacuum excavation trucks to empty the grinder tank. In the case of a significant storm event requiring mandatory evacuation, it is expected that water usage will be minimal.
What if I use a generator?
If you use a generator capable of running high water usage appliances, it is recommended that you also power the breaker(s) to your grinder pump stations. If the generator is capable and wired to energize the entire house, than the grinder pump will work as normal.
Will my grinder pump “dead head” (be incapable of pumping) due to high pressures in the system during a storm event?
This is very unlikely. Typically, Brunswick County grinder pumps are part of a low pressure system designed to have other similar sized grinder pumps connected to the system. It is rare that a pump is not capable of pumping due to high pressure in a low pressure collection system. However, if this occurs, as pumps turn off in the system upon emptying their basins, any pumps that are “dead heading” will eventually begin to pump down.
What do I do with my storm debris – and when?
Damage assessments play a critical role in how local governments respond and recover from events. While everyone’s first response is to start the cleanup, these assessments are important in determining the needs of our community as a whole. For the county to get an accurate idea of the amount of damage that is storm-related, we ask that you hold your debris while keeping materials separated until the county has had time to perform the initial assessments. Separation categories include vegetative debris, construction & demolition debris, electronics, household trash, appliances & metal, household hazardous waste, etc. North Carolina has several landfill bans in place for many of these items. Having the items separated is key in making sure we uphold the law and safety of all our emergency responders. If you do decide to haul your storm-related debris to the landfill prior to the assessments, normal tipping fees and long lines are likely.