Published: 2011-04-19 05:32:00
Updated: 2011-04-19 13:36:29
Posted April 19, 2011 5:32 a.m. EDT
Updated April 19, 2011 1:36 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — As federal and state officials work on preliminary damage assessments and meet with county emergency management officials to tally property damage from Saturday's outbreak of devastating severe storms, Gov. Bev Perdue established a hotline Tuesday for the public to get answers related to recovery issues, individual assistance needs, donations and volunteering. For that information, call 1-888-835-9966.
Attorney General Roy Cooper said his office will be looking into allegations of price gouging.
Price gouging – or charging an unreasonably excessive amount in times of crisis – is against North Carolina law when a disaster, an emergency or an abnormal market disruption for critical goods and services is declared by the governor or local governments. The law also applies to all levels of the supply chain from the manufacturer to the distributor to the retailer.
To report price gouging, call the Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM (toll-free within North Carolina) or by fill out a price gouging complaint form online.
State Crime Control and Public Safety spokeswoman Julia Jarema said the Federal Emergency Management Agency must complete their survey of the storm's damage to see which areas, if any, qualify for individual or community financial assistance from the federal government.
So far, Jarema said state and federal officials haven’t had to set up tent camps or feeding stations for displaced residents. Most of the aid has been handled by county services. As of Monday morning, seven shelters remained open. Two others were closed because they weren’t needed.
Other than damage assessment, the state’s main role is helping to coordinate county requests for “mutual aid” help from other counties, Jarema said.
“We’ve been sending search and rescue teams, law enforcement support and fire and rescue help” from unaffected counties to those worst hit, Jarema said.
In coming days, most requests will probably be for chainsaw teams to help clear debris, she said.
Jarema said people who need assistance with storm damage should contact their local county emergency management.
“That’s the first step in the process,” she said. “If you have additional needs, let your local emergency management know.”
Property owners with insurance should report damage as soon as possible to get that process started as well, she added.
Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin provided these insurance tips for North Carolinians dealing with property damage:
The Department of Insurance Consumer Services Division is available to assist with insurance-related questions or complaints. They can be reached at 1-800-546-5664 (toll free in North Carolina) or 919-807-6750.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation will pick up storm-related debris along state-maintained roads in severely-impacted areas. Pick-up is expected to begin later this week.
NCDOT officials also offered the following tips: