Salisbury hospital, recently flooded, taking no chances with Florence

- When it comes to Hurricane Florence, Novant Health Rowan Medical Center isn't taking any chances. 

"We're probably over a million dollars damage from our first flood," said Gary Blabon with Novant Health. "And we don't want that to happen again."

The threat of flooding is all too familiar. Last month, heavy rain brought four inches of standing water at the Salisbury hospital, forcing the cancelation of at least a half dozen surgeries, Blabon said. 

"It was a very intense situation," said pharmacy technician Reginald Simmons, who has worked at the hospital for six years. "Not a good situation."

Simmons doesn't want to see a repeat of that.

RELATED: Rowan County hospital that recently flooded takes precautions before storm

"With the hurricane coming it's making us feel a little uneasy," said Simmons. "There's a lot of talk around the hospital. But with all the precautions we have put in place a lot of people feel they will be safe."

Hospital officials consulted with civil engineers. On Wednesday a berm was constructed, anchored to the sidewalk, along the Mocksville Avenue entrance, which is where the flooding occurred last time. Sandbags are being readied. Four-foot walls, made out of wood and rubber, have gone up outside the entrance. Inside, staff will construct additional barriers. 

"The hope is that we don't have any water breached into the area," said Blabon. "With the amount of rain that we're expecting from Hurricane Florence this would be the best measure to keep water away frm the facility."

The protective barriers wil stay in place until after the storm has passed.

Inside the hospital, a newspaper vending machine still sells the Aug. 1 edition of the Salisbury Post. That addition, with the headline "Rain Drain," is a reminder of the flooding that happened here a month ago and the flooding that could be on the way. 

With nearly 200 patients inside all precautions are being taken. 

"Our main concern is the safety of our patients and faculty," said Simmons. 

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