ONLY ON 3: With almost half of New Hanover Co. without power; city, county, police mute
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Duke Energy says more than 40% of New Hanover County is without power this evening because of falling icy tree limbs and power lines.

And while electrical crews are trying to get the lights and heat back on around town, we've learned from a source close to the situation that the Wilmington Police Department had no special plan in place today to handle power outages, trees blocking city streets or dark traffic lights. We're told in fact that no officers got any special instructions or scheduling updates from Chief Ralph Evangelous or his management team on how to handle traffic or neighborhoods with no power. We're also told officers are just trying to do the best they can in the precincts they're in charge of.

We also heard nothing today (this afternoon) from City Manager Sterling Cheatham, Mayor Bill Saffo or City of Wilmington staff on how it plans to handle this storm, the clean-up afterwards or if there are any plans to issue a state of emergency. Both the mayor of Leland and the mayor of Belville issued one this afternoon. A state of emergency allows governments to suspend or change some rules during and immediately after a storm and in some cases starts the process of freeing up state money for repairs.

This evening, City Manager Cheatham, in a phone interview, told WWAY that they have been updating residents via various social media outlets all day and that their plans are well organized.

"Emergency response planning is a professional discipline, we practice this on a regular basis," said City Manager Sterling Cheatham.

Cheatham continued, "And heavily rely on the county for coordinating activities like shelters, and things of that nature and making sure that the state is aware of what we're doing and making sure we have the resources we need to respond. It's up to us, individually, the city, in terms of keeping the streets, and rights of way, and trees groomed. And the NCDOT and others in terms of keeping the major thoroughfares free. We have to work together, and we have to work with the citizens to make sure they heed the direction we give them. And in this case the direction was to please stay off the roads."

He added that they make sure the roads are clear so that power companies can get to the problem areas.

We also heard nothing today from New Hanover County Government or County Manager Chris Coudriet. The New Hanover County Sheriff's Office did call us to encourage drivers to treat intersections without an operating traffic light as a four-way stop.

New Hanover County Emergency Management Tweeted today encouraging people not to be on the roads if they didn't have to be.

Duke Energy says it could be this weekend before everyone gets their power turned back on.

After this story ran, the City of Wilmington sent the following email:

City offices will open at 10 a.m. tomorrow. If staff find that facilities still do not have power, that determination may change. The city annex at 305 Chestnut Street does not currently have power and staff do not know when it will be restored at that location.

Public Services and Community Services crews have been out all day clearing roadways of debris; many have been on duty since 4:30 a.m. Crews have cleared all major roads at this time and will have a crew on standby tonight if any major streets need to be cleared. They will be back on duty first thing tomorrow morning with extra crews to concentrate on clearing additional roadways. Storm debris will be left by the roadside until later when solid waste crews can pick it up. Similarly, Solid Waste crews will not begin to pick up yard waste until next week so that customers have the opportunity to clean up this weekend.

A reminder:
Citizens are asked not to call 911 to report downed trees, power lines or flooding. Here are the numbers to call:
◾Call 341-7852 and leave a message to report trees or tree limbs blocking roadways within city limits.
◾Call 341-4646 and leave a message to report flooding or other stormwater issues within city limits.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

...firing back at the citizens comments here...complaining about city management's silence...remember one thing...>
Your Mayor is always silent about troubled issues in Wilmington...weather or gang related. BUT>>>
Let a Cracker Jack Lawyer though try and shoot down his CC Hotel ground breaking plans...and he's got plenty to say.
Priorities...Priorities folks. I'm sure the Police would do as they were told to do with bad weather conditions...but they were not.
A lack of supervision always leads to failure in this case, one way or the other. After all...Look who runs Wilmington! HA!!!

Really? Does the average citizen really need THAT much help? It's freaking ice, the news told you about it for a WEEK! Did you not prepare?? Tough luck idiots!

What "special instructions" need to be given? There are experienced cop and deputy supervisors out there that are paid to manage the street cops and deputies, manage the issues, and respond accordingly. If they need "special instructions" then we hired the wrong people.

There are only so many law enforcement officers out there, do you seriously think that there can be one at EVERY intersection or problem in the city at EVERY moment? Again, you're either an idiot or a s#1t stirrer.

"New Hanover County Emergency Management Tweeted today encouraging people not to be on the roads if they didn't have to be."

I think this sums it up.

And if you are not smart enough to follow the instructions, not advice, of the authorities, then you are a moron and will be thinned out soon enough.

Hopefully you won't cause any collateral damage.

Wait, I remember most of you who post about Police issues are anti police and said you din't need them or wouldn't call them. So, what is your problem now.

If we might suggest a correction. New Hanover County has actually sent out 8 messages (to media, community members etc) thus far over the course of this weather event with information about the storm, traveling conditions, county operations and shelters as well as coordinated an emergency notice scrolling on televisions throughout the region. In the future, anyone interested in directly receiving information about this and other events can subscribe to our Emergency Notification sign up. It's very easy to sign up for and you can start getting information sent to you via phone, email and/or text. There is a link to it on the front page of our website www.nhcgov.com. Thank you and be safe.

Chief keeps his eyes closed and ears shut while surrounding himself with a command staff that feed him lies. He eats it up all day long.

Let me put on my shocked face. :0 The plan they have is simple and remains the same.
Stay out of high crime areas (downtown wilmington) and hand out bills to working people with cars
(Traffic citations). thanks guys. That's why we love you

Isn't it the job of the news media to keep citizens informed, not the government officials? This story sounds like you, and part of the police department's staff, are whining about not having their phone calls returned. There are laws in place for drivers to "handle" traffic at intersections when the lights are out - and I'm confident most Wilmington commuters know how to dodge fallen trees in the roadways. Did we really need to instill a government state of emergency for this event? We live in a hurricane zone for pity sakes…act like you got some smarts!

I couldn't agree more. Not once, in all of this weather, did I need instruction from the city OR the county as to how to be safe. As a licensed driver do you REALLY need to have an officer instructing you as to how to handle a traffic light that is down or to avoid trees in the road? Did your parents not teach you to avoid power lines?
I'm sure most of the people complaining would SWEAR all of the police in town were sitting "drinking coffee and eating donuts" but I was out on the road yesterday....I saw PLENTY of working officers out in the cold, directing traffic.
I'll say "THANK YOU" to them, the rest of you whiney people? Grow up or become the police chief....
I try NOT to look at WECT news as their reporting makes me ill most of the time -but really WWAY?

It's because they're waiting for an opportunity to blow someone away.

Just how much can a city management group turn their backs on its taxpayers?????

(Quotes)
1.) "Wilmington Police Department had no special plan in place today to handle power outages, trees blocking city streets or dark traffic lights. We're told in fact that no officers got any special instructions or scheduling updates from Chief Ralph Evangelous or his management team on how to handle traffic or neighborhoods with no power. We're also told officers are just trying to do the best they can in the precincts they're in charge of.

2.) "We also heard nothing today from City Manager Sterling Cheatham, Mayor Bill Saffo or City of Wilmington staff on how it plans to handle this storm, the clean-up afterwards or if there are any plans to issue a state of emergency."

3.) "We also heard nothing today from New Hanover County Government or County Manager Chris Coudriet. The New Hanover County Sheriff's Office did call us to encourage drivers to treat intersections without an operating traffic light as a four-way stop." (Unquote)

Come on citizens of Wilmington! The old saying "3 Strikes You're Out" most definitely comes into play here with your city "So called Leaders".
There aren't any leaders...so get rid of the dead weight already!

What number do you call to report downed trees outside city limits in New Hanover County?

NCDOT. look it up, they are in the phone book, google it or call 411.

Where is the leadership for the City of Wilmington? Mr. City Manager and Mr. Police Chief it's called "doing your jobs". The fact that neither party had contingency plans or even A PLAN for that matter is quite despicable. I have witnessed on two occasions WPD pass right by a busy intersection with lights out.

This article does not mention the Fire Department but from talking to a neighbor who needed them today they seemed to be the only ones in the city who stepped up and had things under control. A big kudos to them!

An organization is a reflection of it's leader. In this circumstance Chief Evangelous, is a manager not a leader. No initiative. Why? No law MANDATES that they step in in a situation like this.
Management at its finest. Managing to not do what needs to be done. Managing to take no blame or repercussions. And managing to keep the job that pays well.

Let me start by saying...I want no one out in dangerous weather...it isn't worth it....
But where is eveybody...no cops directing traffic at at least 4 stop lights on Oleander to 41st Street...
HHaven't seen but 1 power truck and they were parked in front of Hobby Lobby...
It wwasn't sleeting, snowing from 12 noon on today..it was raining..
Last snow storm I was told that Oleander Drive wasn't a primary road...it will melt....where are you officials. ..hunkered don in a nightshirt sweatshirt..2 pair of socks and 3 blankets??? Don't think so!! I AM TICKED OFF

How many traffic lights in Wilmington? How many cops? At some point in time you have to handle things on your own. Use a little common sense and safety. There are other things out there the cops need to handle besides you being inconvenienced when you have to actually think about what to do when a traffic light is out.
I am sure some plan of action is in place for all the agencies mentioned. Just because WWAY is not aware of them does not mean they don't exist. The department heads probably have their hands full without worrying about the press feeling slighted because they don't get a call every time a light bulb burns out.

I guess someone just doesn't realize that every traffic light on Oleander Drive does not constitute a major intersection.

thank you for telling the viewer that!!! err'y body always wanting someone to tell them what to do when commonsense should prevail!! a storm comes and then IDIOT happens!

Here on the county side we don't have a plan either. What's the big deal?

Are you surprised? Ralph probably didn't get instructions from Pappa Sterling, and the County must have assigned the plan of action to Berger.