Local News

New Computer Program Helps To Coordinate Hurricane Evacuations

Posted June 4, 2004 5:29 a.m. EDT

— When a hurricane moves in, people along the coast move out. The state is hoping a new computer program will make evacuations less frantic. New technology will also help warn people further inland of what they can expect from the storm.

The technology is directly related to the National Weather Service issuing a five-day hurricane forecast instead of three-day forecast. That information is tied to a new computer program that helps coordinate evacuations.

"It gets them moving earlier, rather than wait until the last minute when the roads are jammed," said Kenneth Taylor, of the state Division of Emergency Management.

During Hurricane Fran, some people who live on Eton Road in Raleigh had no idea what kind of damage they would get from the wind. With the new technology, people living inland will now know what to expect.

It will help in predicting wind speeds and flooding amounts -- something that was not available during Floyd. It will also take into account the tract of the storm with historical events.

Theresa Dalton of Raleigh lost more than 30 trees during Fran. Her family was without power for two weeks. She said she is all for having a better handle on what the impact may be.

"We probably would do things differently. We brought things in -- loose things, that kind of stuff because we didn't anticipate anything beyond a little wind," she said.

During Hurricane Isabel, the state had a hard time communicating with some counties because phones were down. The state now has an online satellite communication system. It allows all 100 counties to talk with state emergency workers even if cell phone service is unavailable. The system was paid for with grant money.