Berger forms committee to respond to Irene

Posted September 2, 2011 11:57 a.m. EDT
Updated September 6, 2011 4:20 p.m. EDT

— Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger on Friday named nine senators to a committee to respond to Hurricane Irene damage and work to prepare the state for future natural disasters.

“The state must respond promptly and efficiently to destructive events that batter our communities,” Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement. “This committee will help ensure that happens.”

The Senate Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Response includes seven Republicans and two Democrats, and Berger said the members hold leadership roles on issues pertinent to disaster relief – transportation, agriculture, public safety and appropriations – and some represent districts hit hard by Irene.

Sens. Pete Brunstetter, R-Forsyth, and Louis Pate, R-Wayne, will co-chair the committee. Other members are Sens. Jean Preston, R-Carteret, Stan White, D-Dare, Ed Jones, D-Halifax, Andrew Brock, R-Davie, Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston, Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, and Harry Brown, R-Onslow.

Berger noted that lawmakers added more than $183 million this year to the state’s rainy day fund, which now has about $300 million. They also appropriated about $125 million into a repair and renovation fund, which can be used to rebuild crucial infrastructure, he said.