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N.C. Sets Up 'War Room' In Preparations For Ophelia

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KINSTON, N.C. — Inside a sprawling office complex at the Global TransPark in Kinston, state emergency workers are ready to fight Ophelia.

About 300 National Guard troops, who are responsible for getting supplies to where they are needed before and after the storm, are on the coast ready for whatever Ophelia may bring. State disaster teams with the Division of Forestry also are standing by.

No matter what path Ophelia takes, state emergency workers are ready to fight the storm, thanks in part to the state-of-the-art facility at the Global TransPark, the Division of Forestry's Bob Houseman said.

"It's set up as a hi-tech training facility, so it has excellent infrastructure," Houseman said. "There are a number of rooms we can organize in."

The so-called war room is set up just like it would be in a battlefield in Iraq.

But instead of fighting a shadowy insurgency, state emergency workers are battling a force of nature; and they know both are unpredictable.

Major Warner Wells said Ophelia controls what they do.

"A very wise person once said the enemy always has a vote in what happens, and in this case Ophelia has a vote in what happens," Major Wells said.

The one certain advantage North Carolina has is experience.

"We learn something from every storm, and we share that information," Governor Mike Easley said during a press conference.

If Ophelia makes landfall, the emergency teams in Kinston and other locations are set up to handle everything -- from clearing debris and trees from roads to getting food, water and medical supplies to hurricane victims.


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