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N.C. Braces for Hurricane Floyd, Hunt Proclaims a State of Emergency

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RALEIGH — North Carolina is getting ready forHurricane Floyd, and emergency management officials say the damage we saw duringFranthree years ago just scratched the surface.

Listen to Greg Fishel's 11 p.m. forecast (auorReal Audiofile) -->Gov. Jim Hunt proclaimed a State of Emergency and a State of Disaster in North Carolina. That allows the state government to use all resources at its disposal to respond to the damage that Hurricane Floyd may cause.

"We are doing everything we can to ensure all of the available resources are in place to help our people prepare for this storm," said Hunt, who warns North Carolinians to take Floyd very seriously.

Listen toauorReal Audiofile.Crime Control and Public SafetySecretary Richard Moore sounded the alarm Tuesday morning. "We can't stress how dangerous this storm is going to be and how widespread the impact may be," Moore said.

Moore warned North Carolina residents that the hurricane could affect areas that are not familiar with tropical force winds.

"This storm is so strong and moving so fast that even with landfall in South Carolina, hurricane-force winds could be felt all the way up into West Virginia and almost to Pennsylvania." PowerPower is always one of the first concerns when a storm hits.CP&Lhas started mobilizing thousands of power restoration workers. They expect to have as many crews in place as they did when Fran hit -- more than 7,000.

CP&L warns Floyd will bring major outages and long waits on customer service lines. State PreparationsOfficials are expecting Floyd to bring at least 10 inches of rain to large parts of the state.

As many as 700 North Carolina National Guard troops were expected to be activated by the end of the day Tuesday. Their primary mission will be security and traffic, but there are also nearly 300 chain saw teams ready to move in and clear debris after the storm.

The state also has more than 200 generators ready, and trucks are standing by with ice, water, 5,000 blankets and 10,000 rolls of plastic. Your PreparationBecause the storm is expected to hit late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, the time tostart preparingis now.

Emergency management officials are making a plea to people who live in a manufactured home, trailer, camper or tent to find a safer place to stay Wednesday night and until the storm is over.

Cumberland County has more than 8,000 mobile homes alone. Emergency workers say the people who live in them could be hurt or killed by high winds. Authorities say that to be safe, go to a building or a shelter.

Officials say Wednesday night is so important because a lot of people are injured when objects like trees or patio furniture fly through windows.

Some counties are beginning to identify possible shelters andclosings.

Pet CareNow is the time to find a safe place for your pets. Local animal shelters expect to take in some displaced dogs and cats if the storm strikes.
  • If you are staying at home, remember to bring pets inside. Also make sure your pets have plenty of food, water and proper identification tags.
  • If you are leaving your home and taking your pet with you, bring along several days' worth of food and a jug of water for each pet.
  • If you are heading to a shelter, you need to make arrangements for your pets, because with the exception of seeing-eye dogs, they are not allowed at the shelters.
  • All pets should have collars with current owner information on the tags. If you do not have a tag, use a luggage tag, or wrap a piece of masking tape around your pet's collar and hand write owner information. This will help in the event your pet is lost. You may also be asked to provide vaccine information. Secure Outdoor ItemsMake sure you secure or store items that are outside your home. Picnic tables, grills, potted plants -- anything that can be moved -- could be a play toy for Floyd.

    If something comes crashing into your home, that hole could funnel strong winds into your house.

    Trees also cause a lot of damage. During Fran, the soil was so saturated, trees went down quickly. Despite the rains from Dennis and depending on the area you live in, the soil is not as wet. But the trees are.

    "A tree will pick up 500, 1,000 pounds of additional weight because of the rain that has soaked up in the bark and on the leaves," says one expert. TravelLocal flights are already being affected by Hurricane Floyd. Most major airlines have canceled flights in and out of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

    Some passengers are arriving atRDU Internationalonly to find their flight has been canceled.

    An airport spokesperson says this is just the beginning. Floyd has the potential to disrupt air travel for the next few days.

    Travel agents say travel insurance is a must during hurricane season. But all insurance policies are not created equal. Be sure yours includes coverage for hurricanes.

    Any travel insurance you buy needs to be purchased before a storm is named. If you have your heart set on a Caribbean vacation, travel agents suggest the "A-B-C" islands -- Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao -- which are not in the hurricane belt.

    "If you have insurance, they will evacuate you, pay for it," says travel agent Carol Gault. "If you don't want to go -- the island's being evacuated -- you'll get your money back."

    You may also want to book a trip to a resort that offers "guaranteed getaways."

    Even some realtors who rent out beach homes on the North Carolina coast will give you your money back in the event of a storm.

    Cruises are a different story. The captain usually just re-routes them to another destination.

    Amtrakis also canceling some trips because of the storm. You can call them at1-800-872-7245or in Raleigh at(919) 833-7594. Schools and KidsSomeschools are closingas well.

    As schools close and the storm nears, remember,children will also feel the stress and strainthat you feel.

    Psychologist Dr. Sandra Wartski says parents need to watch how they act around their children during this time of possible disaster.

    "Be honest," Wartski says. "You might be a little bit worried but ... do that in a way that is non-threatening to a child, that doesn't allow for them to escalate."

    Wartski says the best thing a parent can do is listen. FarmersWith Floyd churning closer and closer, it is a race against time for hog and poultry farmers. Waste lagoons can pollute rivers and destroy wildlife if they break open.

    Throughout the state, farmers are lowering their lagoon levels as much as possible before the downpour really starts.

    State inspectors are in high gear, answering calls for help from farmers who might not make it before the heavy rain.

    The key, inspectors say, is talking to them before the storm while there is still time to act. ,Laurie Clowers,Pam Saulsby


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