Hurricanes

Emergency responders, Red Cross look to help storm victims

Posted September 2, 2010 12:23 p.m. EDT
Updated September 3, 2010 2:42 a.m. EDT

— Emergency responders and the American Red Cross are gearing up to help North Carolinians before and after Hurricane Earl hits.

Gov. Bev Perdue said North Carolina is prepared to deal with what is expected to be a glancing blow from the storm.

"We're ready, ready as anybody could be," Perdue said Thursday. "People really know what they're supposed to do, and they're doing it."

The Red Cross sent 130 disaster workers and sent two trailers and 37 of what it calls emergency response vehicles (ERV) to a staging area in Raleigh. The trucks are packed with enough food to feed 800 people a day and relief supplies, including tarps, work gloves and trash bags for clean-up.

The Red Cross is also running 12 shelters to provide food, a place to sleep and minor first aid care. Mental health support will also be available.

"In the days and weeks to come, the Red Cross will be coordinating with emergency and local community partners to help residents impacted by the hurricane get back on their feet," said Toby Barfield, head of the Red Cross' Central Carolina chapter.

Perdue, leaders of state agencies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are coordinating efforts from a state building in downtown Raleigh. They receive briefings from local officials, track the storm and work to provide logistics, operations, human services and emergency services.

The National Guard has placed 94 soldiers on duty and another 150 on standby. The Guard is also ready to help rescue operations with two UH-60 Blackhawk aircraft.

Swift-water rescue teams were also put on standby, and the State Highway Patrol was called to assist with evacuations.

An emergency disaster declaration from President Barack Obama authorized FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to support disaster relief efforts. FEMA was also using Fort Bragg as a base of operations.

"We feel comfortable this morning that we have in place the resources and the supplies and the capacity to do whatever it takes for North Carolina and our citizens to be safe and to be able to survive this event," Perdue said.

That state of emergency also puts into play North Carolina's price-gouging law, according to state Attorney General Roy Cooper. He warned residents to be on the lookout for scams.

Scams and other fraud can be reported to the state Attorney General's Office by calling toll-free 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filling out an online consumer complaint form.