NC emergency director says lessons learned from previous storms will save lives


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – “One of things everybody says is don’t waste a disaster because a disaster is a good learning experience and will help you grow your agency and make it better. If you don’t document the things that you didn’t do so well at the time you know shame on you,” said Director of North Carolina Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry.

That learning experience includes Hurricane Matthew.

Hurricane Dorian is expected to take a similar track.

Twenty-five deaths in North Carolina were directly related to Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Of those, 24 were flood-related with 19 deaths after people drove or walked into floodwaters, according to a report issued by NOAA and the National Weather Service.

Recent technology has greatly improved flood mapping and flood alerts.

“Now we can model where flooding is going to happen, it’s pretty granular, it’s down to the structural level, it’ll tell you where it’s going to flood, how deep the duration that kind of stuff,” Sprayberry told CBS17.  

But, people have to pay attention to those warnings and not drive on flooded roads.

 That includes Interstates-40 and -95 where hurricane flooding shut both down.  

Engineers with the North Carolina Department of Transportation have been working to figure whether it’s best to elevate or strengthen those stretches of interstate.  

“That has happened and they are working towards that end to try to figure out what it would take to mitigate flooding on those major roads,” said Sprayberry.

The Department of Homeland Security has also improved preparedness.

North Carolina is divided into nine Homeland Security regions that can provide generators, tents, trucks and lighting.

The new 800 hundred-megahertz Viper Communication System will help agencies and local first responders better stay in touch.

The state also has 46 more swift watercraft. Just as important the old way of “let’s wait and see” has changed.

“Go big, go early and be early” Sprayberry said.

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