Easley Tells Residents to Get Ready for Rough Hurricane Season

The 2007 Atlantic hurricane season gets under way in less than two weeks. State leaders are urging residents to start preparing now.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Many hurricane experts are expecting an active hurricane season, and state leaders are urging residents to start preparing now.

Gov. Mike Easley and other officials held a news conference Tuesday to remind residents what to do when a storm comes.

“Sub-tropical storm Andrea was a wake-up call for our state and a reminder to all North Carolinians to get ready for what could be a busy hurricane season,” Easley said. “Our state’s vulnerability to hurricanes ranks second only to Florida, so every citizen must be prepared.”

Easley also discussed results from a Mason-Dixon poll conducted earlier in May indicating most North Carolinians are not concerned about or prepared for major storms during this hurricane season.

“Citizens across our state must take personal responsibility to prepare themselves and their families for emergencies so they can be safe on their own for the first few days after a storm,” said Easley. “If those who are able to prepare will do so, then police officers, firefighters and EMS crews will be able to help those in life threatening situations first.”

The Democrat, however, reiterated that the war on terror and in Iraq has left the National Guard without the time to train, or the resources it needs, to adequately respond to a multistate catastrophe, such as a pandemic.

He again noted that while only 800 soldiers of the state's 11,500 guard members are deployed, half of the guard's equipment is currently overseas. By September, in the height of the six-month hurricane season, the guard only expects to have about 60 percent of its equipment on hand.

"The guard cannot continue to work at an operational level rather than a strategic level much longer," Easley said. "It just won't work long term."

While predicting storms is not an exact science, the team at North Carolina State University was right on last year when they called a quieter-than-normal season. This year, however, the team predicts warm water in the Atlantic will brew 12 to 13 named storms.

WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said that an active season in the Atlantic doesn't necessarily mean we will be busy in North Carolina.

"We could have an active year as a whole in terms of the big picture, but the number of storms that come to North Carolina may or may not be that great," he said.

In the event of a hurricane larger than a Category 3, Easley said the state would need to ask for help from its neighbors. Lt. Col. Steve Martin of the North Carolina National Guard said officials have prepared a list of items that the guard may need from other states.

"We do not have, on the state level right now, the resources that it takes to respond the way governors want to respond," Easley said.

Still, a hurricane does not have to hit North Carolina to hit the wallet. Officials said an active storm season will send gas prices soaring even higher than they are already.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.



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