Local News

U.S. House Passes Bill To Protect N.C. From Hurricane Floods

Posted July 11, 2002 1:31 a.m. EDT

— The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday to develop a system warning communities of the threat of inland flooding associated with hurricanes and tropical storms.

The legislation, introduced by U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, D-Lillington, passed by the full House of Representatives by a vote of 413-3.

Of the 56 lives lost during Hurricane Floyd, 48 were the result of inland flooding. The Tropical Cyclone Inland Forecasting Improvement and Warning System Development Act (H.R. 2486) aims to prevent future tragedies.

When Hurricane Floyd blew onto North Carolina's coast in Sept. 1999, beach residents were ready for the wind and the rain. Residents further inland, in places like Kinston, Greenville, Princeville and Tarboro, were not ready for the flooding.

The storm dumped more rain inland than the rivers, lakes and streams could handle causing massive flooding.

After Floyd's flooding and destruction, Etheridge brought together hurricane experts and Raleigh meteorologists, including WRAL's Greg Fishel, for a summit on hurricane forecasting.

The group identified the need for a warning system to alert inland residents about the potential threat of inland flooding.

H.R. 2486 authorizes $5.75 million over five years for the United States Weather Research Program to improve its ability to forecast inland flooding associated with tropical cyclones and to develop and deploy an inland flood warning index.

The Act authorizes $1.150 million per year for five years for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) U.S. Weather Research Program to:

  • Improve its capability to accurately forecast inland flooding through research and modeling.
  • Develop, test and deploy a new flood warning index.
  • Train emergency management officials, National Weather Service personnel and meteorologists on improved forecasting techniques for inland flooding.
  • Conduct outreach and education efforts to local meteorologists and the public regarding the dangers and risks associated with tropical cyclone induced inland flooding and the use and understanding of the inland flood warning index or system.
  • Directs the NOAA to grant $250,000 per year for five years of the total funds authorized to supplement ongoing research and modeling efforts to improve the ability to forecast coastal and estuary-inland flooding associated with tropical cyclones.
  • Authorizes NOAA to make such grants and enter into such contracts as deemed necessary with appropriate research universities and/or institutions to carry out the activities associated with this act.
  • Directs the NOAA to report to the House Science Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee 90 days after passage of this act, and annually thereafter until authorization expires, on the progress for improving the forecasting for tropical cyclone induced inland flooding, developing/enhancing an inland flood warning index or system and the success and acceptance of such a system by the public and emergency management professionals.