Windy day in Chimney Rock

Hurricane Sandy brings high winds to Hickory Nut Gorge
Oct. 30, 2012 @ 06:05 AM

CHIMNEY ROCK — Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park is expected to reopen today after it was closed Monday due to high winds and debris in the park caused by Hurricane Sandy. 

Rutherford County — and 23 other western counties — was declared a State of Emergency by Gov. Bev Perdue late Monday afternoon (See Sidebar: Rutherford) 

Although it's the middle of the peak fall color leaf season and this is a very busy time for the park, keeping everyone safe was top priority for the officials at the park.

"It is very windy in Chimney Rock and with the projection of 45 MPH winds, it is not safe to be in the park," said General Manager, Mary Jaeger-Gale. "We are most concerned about our tourists and the safety of our associates."

Jaeger-Gale said as the debris was being cleared Monday, the Park was expected to be open today.

Among the few tourists in Chimney Rock Village were Randy and Kristina Green of Myrtle Beach, S.C.. "We drove up from Myrtle Beach today just to come to the Park," they said, adding they were very disappointed.

The Greens and only four or five other tourists were seen walking in and out of gift shops.

In neighboring, Lake Lure, only a few cars were spotted at a restaurant across from the beach, also traditionally a very busy time of year.

With the exception of the high winds, Rutherford County didn't experience any other trouble from Hurricane Sandy, but the high winds were enough for the State of Emergency declaration. 

Several Rutherford County residents have family members in New York, including Jim and Faye Bishop of Forest City. 

Karon Bishop Moreno said from New York City Monday morning she and her family are locked in for a few days as the city's public transportation system is closed.

"My husband can't go to work, since he works in New Jersey and those roads flood  worse than in New York," she said.

Moreno is married to Julian Moreno and they have two children, Lukas, 4, and Marcus, who will be 2 in December.She has been in New York since 1996 and is a stay-at-home mom. 

The Morenos lives on the first floor of a 15-story apartment building in Washington Heights near Upper Manhattan.

"We probably wouldn't have any flooding, and the wind is our biggest concern," she said. However, depending on the amount of rain, the rivers could flood.

"Right now we're watching a little television while we've got power. We'll camp out in the living room, read books, color and anything else we can do to keep them entertained," she said of the young children.

She said this storm is worse than last year's Hurricane Irene, when the subway system was closed done for a day.

"We're imagining the subway will be closed again on Tuesday and we will not get back to normal until about Wednesday, just in time for Halloween.

Traditionally the children trick-or-treat at store front buildings in their neighborhoods. But Wednesday, the Morenos are going to the History Museum for the Halloween party there.

"That will be good and it will be indoors," she said. 

The American Red Cross said Monday afternoon anyone in the  path of this storm to stay informed and get prepared in case their community is affected. One way to help is by donating blood prior to the storm’s arrival.

“This storm could affect the turnout at Red Cross blood drives along the East Coast,” said Delisa English, chief executive

officer, Carolinas Blood Services Region. “We ask anyone who is eligible to donate, especially in regions not affected by

the storm, to please schedule a blood donation now. By giving blood now, your donation will help the Red Cross ensure

that blood is available for patients who still need blood despite the weather.”

The next opportunity to give blood in Rutherford County is 

Wednesday, Nov.  14 at the Lake Lure Fire Dept. on US 64/74 in Lake Lure. Call 625-0767 for further information or to register to give blood.

The Red Cross has the ability to move blood around the country to where it’s needed most – especially during these

critical times. “It’s the blood already on the shelves that helps save lives when disasters occur,” said Delisa English . “The time to help is now.”

The Red Cross is mobilizing disaster workers in the regions that weather experts say will be affected by the storm, and

has more than 100 emergency response vehicles on alert. Supplies are ready to be moved and shelter locations are

being identified across multiple states. The Red Cross is working closely with federal, state and local government officials,as well as community partners to coordinate response efforts.

 Duke Energy, the nation’s largest electric utility, announced on Monday, it has made 1,200 line workers available to help other utilities restore power in Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath.

Most of the workers are contractors who normally work in the service areas of Duke Energy and Progress Energy.

The state's electric cooperatives continue to monitor Hurricane Sandy, restoring power to remaining consumers along coast and preparing for the winter storm forecasted to hit the mountains, said officials in a news release Monday.