North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley announced that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service is predicting another active hurricane season.
He urged residents in every part of the state to start planning now for the possibility of hurricanes and the devastating winds, tornados, flash flooding, landslides and debris flows that come with them.
“After the seven hurricanes and tropical storms we had last season, it is imperative that people take the time now to assemble family emergency preparedness kits, identify evacuation routes and locate the shelters near them,” said Easley, who has proclaimed May 15-21 as Hurricane Preparedness Week. “Advance preparation saves lives. People should plan now in case authorities call for an evacuation or if power is lost for several days.”
North Carolina tops the national list for the number of billion-dollar weather-related disasters from 1980-2004, according to the NOAA National Data Center in Asheville. Most of those disasters were of a tropical nature.
Hurricanes and tropical storms Alex, Bonnie, Charley, Frances, Gaston, Ivan and Jeanne created an above-average storm season last year, caused more than a dozen deaths and left hundreds of millions of dollars in damages in 50 counties, both in the eastern and western parts of the state.
“The 2004 hurricane recovery process is still underway as the state tries to help hurricane victims recover,” said Secretary Bryan Beatty of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. “We must learn from the lessons of the past and take measures to prepare now to prevent further injuries, fatalities or damage to property.”
Last year, tropical weather systems spawned 45 tornados in North Carolina, including one from Tropical Storm Bonnie that killed three people in Pender County. Landslides, debris flows and flooding in the western part of the state killed 11 people, including five in Peeks Creek in Macon County. At least three of the 11 died when they tried to drive through flood waters.
North Carolina residents should know their evacuation routes, know what to do with family pets and have a contact person that family members can notify in case they become separated.
The National Weather Service, the State Division of Emergency Management and local government officials all work together before, during and after a hurricane or tropical storm to reduce the dangers posed to lives and property and to provide a quick, effective response to these storms.
“Those who observe Hurricane Preparedness Week by having a family disaster plan and a disaster supply kit, and are alert to current weather situations, will be a lot safer from the dangers of hurricanes and tropical storms such as we saw last year,” Beatty said. “Being prepared and knowing what to do before a storm strikes does save lives.”
Questions about Hurricane Preparedness Week activities or hurricane preparedness can be directed to county or state emergency management agencies. Preparedness information is available on the Internet at www.nccrimecontrol.org or at the national hurricane awareness site at http://hurricanes.noaa.gov/
As a reminder, Recovery Application Centers will be open through May 27 to provide one-stop application service for 2004 hurricane disaster victims in 50 disaster-declared counties across the state who have exhausted other avenues of financial assistance and need additional monetary help. The one-stop centers are a part of a new hurricane recovery program, named Operation Brighter Day, which will help disaster victims obtain assistance made available under the Hurricane Recovery Act of 2005.
For additional information, visit www.OperationBrighterDay.org, or call the Governor’s Hurricane Recovery Bilingual Hotline toll free at 1-888-835-9966 (TTY, 1-877-452-2514).
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