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Disaster Preparedness Task Force Begins Work On Numerous Storm-Related Issues

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Triangle region seems to have its fair share of natural disasters.

It gets drilled by the wind from hurricanes, like Fran. It gets buried by rain from coastal storms.

Throw in severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and the bad ice storm from earlier this month, and just about every weather condition has hit the area.

Last month's storm, one of the worst to hit the area, left some not-so-pleasant memories that won't fade anytime soon. It raised some serious questions about the power companies' ability to restore power quickly - and the state's ability to respond to yet another natural disaster.

So, a task force appointed by Governor Mike Easley has begun work on a whole series of storm-related issues - from keeping the lights on, to keeping people safe.

The state's Natural Disaster Preparedness Task Force met for the first time on Friday.

Easley has put Bryan Beatty, the director of Crime Control and Public Safety, in charge of the task force.

The power companies are on the hot seat because some customers were without electricity for as long as nine days. The state's four power companies gave an accounting to the task force on delays in getting service re-connected and promises to improve communication with customers during power outages.

The task force will study issues from power-company prepardness, costs of burying electric cables and improving communication with the non-english speaking community.

One more troubling issue involves the state budget. The state has no savings account or money set aside if another natural disaster blows this way.

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