North Carolina is ready for the next potential hurricane even as the state continues efforts to recover from Hurricane Matthew, Governor Roy Cooper said today during a national hurricane briefing with President Donald Trump and other federal officials.
“In North Carolina we’re veterans when it comes to preparing for and responding to hurricanes, Gov. Cooper said. “We’re constantly working to stay ready for the next storm and its aftermath, even as we’re still recovering from Hurricane Matthew.”
Hurricane Matthew struck North Carolina in October 2016, causing an estimated $4.8 billion in damage and impacting half the counties in the state.
Gov. Cooper thanked FEMA for its help with Hurricane Matthew recovery. More than 300 FEMA employees are still in North Carolina working closely with NC Emergency Management officials and local partners to help families and communities recover from Matthew. Gov. Cooper continues to work with the state’s congressional delegation to secure more recovery help for North Carolina.
Gov. Cooper was one of three governors asked to speak during the video conference, which included governors from 14 states and territories at high risk for hurricanes. NC Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks and NC Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry joined Gov. Cooper for the conference. Also participating were Vice President Mike Pence, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, FEMA Administrator Brock Long, and other federal officials.
“Natural disaster preparedness is a joint effort between state and local partners, the American people, and the federal government. We at DHS and FEMA are ready to respond quickly, efficiently, and effectively when a disaster occurs,” said Acting Secretary Duke. “We take this responsibility seriously, and like today will continue to coordinate closely with our state and local partners to support our nation’s collective ability to respond.”
Gov. Cooper pointed to unique challenges North Carolina faces in responding to a hurricane, including the state’s extensive and fragile barrier islands that draw tourists from across the country and around the world. The state’s efforts to prepare for hurricanes must consider ways to protect both residents and visitors, he said.
“We are one of the leaders in the country in hurricane preparedness,“ Gov. Cooper said during the briefing, pointing to recent training exercises, conferences, and other efforts to coordinate between state, local and federal partners. “We keep our skills fresh and learn lessons from these exercises.”
North Carolina conducted a statewide Hurricane Exercise in March that included participants from across the state. State Emergency Management officials also co-hosted an annual hurricane conference with East Carolina University in May, and hosted a summit in June with the Defense Department agencies to synchronize disaster response with the many military installations in the state.
The state and county agencies that comprise North Carolina’s State Emergency Response Team work throughout the year to coordinate and practice response plans. The state has developed numerous resources to help with disaster response including seven Search and Rescue Teams, seven Regional HazMat Teams, and two Mobile Disaster Hospitals ready to deploy in the event of another hurricane. Also available are two disaster warehouses ready to provided needed goods to 20,000 survivors, with contracts in place for additional needs.