PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS, CITY OF SALEM COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR Salem Fire and EMS Chief John Prillaman speaks at a regional emergency preparedness meeting Tuesday

Civic Center personnel coordinated with the American Red Cross to ready its shelter with cots and food if needed. And citizens flooded stores to buy out bottled water, milk, batteries and flashlights and cell phone chargers – and chain saws and gasoline – as Hurricane Florence bore upward along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.

Meanwhile, Salem’s elected leaders prepared to answer phones and serve where needed. “I will volunteer wherever I’m needed to go,” said Councilman Bill Jones, who has spent hours in the city’s Electric Department answering phones and reassuring citizens during past weather-related emergencies. Mayor Randy Foley said he would pitch in when he returns from an out-of-town meeting.

“We often have citizens very surprised when the mayor answers the phone when they call the Electric Department,” City Manager Kevin Boggess remarked at the work session preceding Monday night’s Salem City Council meeting. The city has an Emergency Preparedness Plan and an area in the…

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