The city of Fayetteville is dealing with multiple challenges hitting it all at once, due to tropical depression Florence.

And on Sunday afternoon, council members had plenty of questions for staff and utility officials about how the response on many fronts was going.

In a teleconference call, they asked questions about the status of mandatory evacuation around the Cape Fear River, power restoration, traffic light repair, tree removal and other subjects.

Police officials informed them that they have been actively trying to implement the mandatory evacuation of a one-mile radius around the Cape Fear River and Little River, but some people have refused to go.

The Cape Fear River is expected to crest at over 62 feet on Tuesday at 11 a.m., and subsiding some time after 8 a.m. Friday. The river is already above the flood stage.

Last night, police went out to notify residents in person of the boundaries of the mandatory evacuation, passing out fliers to residents, informing them of the evacuation.

At 10 a.m. today, police officials knocked on doors in the area around Locks Creek Road and Cedar Creek Road, where flooding was starting to occur. Police marked doors red for people who refused to evacuate. Twenty other people agreed to be evacuated and were driven to a shelter, Police Chief Gina Hawkins said.

“We sent out 911 reverse email and texts to those areas,” she said. “We hit almost 90 percent last night up, and we were running again this morning with notifications. We still are looking at making more notifications."

She said some flooding was also noticed at Bartons Landing, and officers were dispatched there to inform residents to get out.

“So we went out and now we are probably sending some more people out there to those apartments," Hawkins said.

She said the nighttime curfew in the city on Saturday night went well.

“There were a lot of blackouts last night,” Hawkins said, saying in those areas officers with blue lights flashing are making their presence known. She said that will happen again on Sunday night.

“They will also be stationed at major intersections to try to deter (crime)," she said. "The curfew was effective. Unfortunately, people people woke up this morning and are driving like nothing is going on.”

David Trego, CEO of the Fayetteville Public Works Commission, told Hawkins by the end of the day they will have a good idea what areas will not have power tonight so the police can plan the response.

“That would be great,” Hawkins replied.

Major roads, lights out

City Engineer Giselle Rodriguez said the city is working 12-hour shifts to focus on the removal of large trees in the right of way. She said 112 trees have been removed, and there are 20 to 25 power lines that can't be removed right now because there are trees on them.

She said 13 roads are closed due to high water or flooding. 

“We have about 50 traffic lights that are out,” she said. “Unless power is restored we can't get them back on. We are waiting for it to be restored onto lights to get them running."

Mayor Mitch Colvin expressed concern in particular about traffic lights being out on much-traveled roads such as Skibo Road.

Councilman James Arp said the city needs to push out a message that people are required to stop at these intersections before crossing through them.

A few days ago, there were 50,000 PWC customers without power.

“We hit a milestone,” Trego said. “We are are below 10 thousand customers without power.”

Trego said power restoration is done by a street-by-street basis.

“The main thoroughfares are all energized as far as I know," he said. "It's going into the individual neighborhoods and you turn those on street by street. You have to isolate each section of wire, turn it on, small section by small section. Then, once we get it done street by street, then you start the customer restoration.

"We are working through our priority protocol and our emergency plan. We're still hopeful that we'll be able to get more and more customers back online.”

Councilman Johnny Dawkins pressed Trego to say when power will be back on in neighborhoods that are out.

“Do I tell them two or three more days? That is my question,” he said.

Trego said he is hesitant to give a specific number of days as each case is different.

Trego said if a customer has a service line down going to their home they are last to be serviced.

"In general those are the last customers we'll get online because we want to get as many customers on as possible, so it could be days (before power is on) if there is an issue at an individual home.”

Councilman Larry Wright said he's hearing complaints from constituents in neighborhoods such as Asbury and Hollywood Heights where their power is off but they see neighbors who have theirs on.

Trego said they have a protocol they go through in turning on power, working on major feeders first, then neighborhoods, then individual streets.

“That is the situation all over the city,” Trego said.

Staff writer John Henderson can be reached at jhenderson@fayobserver.com or 910-486-3596.