Blog: DPS Dispatch

COVID-19 has affected our lives in so many ways. That is especially true when it comes to sheltering plans during an emergency. We are approaching the peak of hurricane season and the landscape for evacuation shelters is drastically different this year. North Carolina Emergency Management officials want you to know what to expect at shelters this year so that you can begin preparing. Prepare, prepare, prepare and prepare some more 

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August is Preparedness Month in North Carolina. So, it’s somewhat fitting that the month kicked off with a hurricane that brought flooding, damaging winds and tornadoes to the eastern portion of the state. Not to mention the first week ended with a rare magnitude 5.1 earthquake felt throughout the region.  Yes, the first week of preparedness month was a stark reminder that North Carolina experiences multiple hazards, some of which occur with little to no warning. 

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Tucked away off Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh in the same secure facility as the NC National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters is the North Carolina State Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Many members of the NC Emergency Management (NCEM) team work here daily, but in times of emergency or during disasters, this building is transformed into an operational war center of state and federal agencies, nonprofit relief organizations, faith-based organizations and some private sector companies.

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Know Your Zone, North Carolina’s new system of coastal evacuation zones, launched earlier this month. It’s a tiered evacuation system that focuses on areas most vulnerable to impacts from hurricanes, tropical storms and other hazards. The campaign was implemented to simplify the evacuation process by assigning lettered evacuation zones in each county, based on areas of higher and lower risk of flooding. How Does it Work?

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It’s early May and COVID-19 dominates our thoughts and the news headlines. Hurricane season is the furthest thing from our minds. It’s not though. It’s starts June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. Now is the time to prepare to ensure your family is safe in the event a hurricane affects your home. May 3-9 is Hurricane Preparedness Week, and it is the time to prepare for the upcoming season. Follow the tips below to be ready when a storm hits.  Emergency Kit

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Governor Declares March 1-7 Severe Weather Preparedness Week Showers are beginning to help flowers and trees to develop buds, birds are singing early morning songs, and the sound of thunder is rumbling across the sky. Spring is a thing of beauty in North Carolina, but it is also the most active season for tornados and severe thunderstorms.  As you are getting the garden ready for all that will begin to bloom in the next few months, also be thinking severe weather preparedness.   

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Storms leave behind big messes and communities need help with clean up. That’s certainly the case on Ocracoke, where several feet of storm surge inundated the island when Hurricane Dorian passed by last September. As residents cleaned out flooded homes, large piles of curbside debris quickly developed all over the island – made up of ruined furniture, soaked drywall and damaged floorboards.  

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More North Carolina counties have been designated as StormReady by the National Weather Service (NWS), as part of the Service’s program to help communities across America mitigate the effects from natural disasters. Twelve more counties joined 74 counties and nine communities in North Carolina already recognized as being StormReady. This year’s additional StormReady counties are Halifax, Macon, Gaston, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Montgomery, Northampton, Perquimans, Rowan, Sampson and Watauga. 

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The Great Southeast Shakeout is a week away and you can be part of the growing crowd to participate in the world’s largest earthquake drill on Oct. 17 at 10:17 a.m. Join the more than 2.1 million people in the southeast who have registered their organization, school, agency, business or family and are ready to perform a ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On’ drill, the recommended action for people to take during an earthquake. Among those joining in the Shakeout are more than 100 North Carolina K-12 schools and districts, which accounts for more than 347,000 of the 364,000 registered participants in the state.

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North Carolina’s Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) bring a variety of skills as well as resources and come from all over to help rebuild communities. A VOAD is a volunteer agency that responds to disasters as part of their overall mission. NC Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry notes that North Carolina’s VOAD program plays a key role in disaster response and recovery.

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When a hurricane or winter storm moves through an area and emergency shelters are opened, Functional Assessment Support Teams (FAST) help those with access and functional needs to find a safe place to stay and provide the resources  they need. NCEM recently held the second of three regional trainings to help ensure those teams are ready to serve in North Carolina.

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