State, homeowners, forecasters anticipate hurricane season
One significant change to the state's plans is a reconsideration of how to evacuate coastal areas.Posted — Updated
Researchers at North Carolina State University believe this season will be close to normal, with a 45 percent that at least one storm will make landfall.
Forecasters have predicted nine to 14 named tropical storms, including four to seven hurricanes. One to three of those hurricanes will be major storms.
State officials have also issued reminders to residents to be prepared and held an exercise last Thursday to test state agencies' disaster response plan.
One significant change to the state's plans is a reconsideration of how to evacuate coastal areas.
After Hurricane Floyd, in 1999, the state developed a plan to reverse lanes of Interstate 40 if a storm threatened to help people get quickly from east to west. That plan has never been put into effect and now, a spokesman for the state Highway Patrol said, it may not be necessary.
"The I-40 reversal plan was created some years ago, but is it practical today? Probably not," Capt. Everett Clendenin said.
"We think these other evacuation plans we're working on, these local coastal communities just expanding on what's in place now, that we'll have a more fine-tuned, efficient manner to move people out," he said.
He added that many highways on and from the coast have been expanded from two to four lanes over the past decade -- adding capacity that was not available when Floyd hit.
North Carolina ranks as the second-most vulnerable state to hurricanes, behind Florida.
The Associated Press reports that in March, there were 281,691 homes in foreclosure in Florida and coastal counties in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
In the troubled economy, families are also finding insurance is more expensive or harder to get.
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