Gov. Bev Perdue has proclaimed May 27 -- June 2 as Hurricane Preparedness Week and is urging North Carolinians to develop family emergency plans and supplies kits. Hurricane season officially begins June 1 and runs through November.
"Hurricane Irene reminded us all just how destructive even smaller storms can be for our families, businesses and communities," Perdue said. "Taking time now to prepare or update your emergency plans and kits can provide peace of mind, as well as give you the tools you need to survive the hurricane and recover from it."
While Hurricane Irene struck North Carolina's coast as a Category 1 -- the weakest level hurricane -- the system caused the worst flooding that many of the Inner Banks counties have seen in nearly a century. Flood levels ranged from two feet above ground level in Aurora to three and one half feet in Belhaven and Oriental and more than five feet above ground in the communities of Stonewall and Mesic. Not even Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which was the state's costliest natural disaster, produced that much flooding for many inland counties.
"North Carolina saw more than its fair share of destruction last year," Perdue said. "Whether the damage comes from flooding, storm surge, destructive winds, tornadoes or landslides, we must be ready -- as individuals, families, communities and as a state."
The Atlantic coast has already seen its first tropical storm this year and hurricane season has not yet officially begun.
Perdue urged families, businesses and local governments to assemble emergency supply kits, then make and rehearse plans for where to go and what to do if a hurricane threatens the state.
"It's critical that people prepare themselves and their families for emergencies by making the necessary plans and having the right supplies," said N.C. Public Safety Secretary Reuben Young. "During the first few days after a massive disaster, you may be on your own until responders can reach you and water, power and other essential services can be restored."
Law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical service crews need to direct resources and response efforts to life-threatening situations first, he added.
Residents also are encouraged to review and update their homeowners' insurance policies now to make sure they include coverage for accidental damage and natural disasters and, if necessary, flood insurance.
Families should have an emergency plan and emergency supplies kit ready to go at all times. The kit should contain enough non-perishable food and a gallon of water per person per day to last three to seven days. The kit should also include the following essentials:
* Copies of insurance papers and identification sealed in a watertight plastic bag
* First-aid kit
* Weather radio and batteries
* Supply of prescription medicines
* Changes of clothes
* Hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and deodorant
* Cash or checkbook
* Pet supplies including food, water, leashes, bedding, muzzle and vaccination records
People should stay informed during a storm by keeping a battery-powered radio for weather and evacuation information and should know evacuation routes in their community. They also need to heed the warnings of state and local officials and evacuate quickly when told to do so.
Residents can evacuate their homes with their small, domestic pets to specially designated pet-friendly shelters. Pet shelters will be equipped with pet crates, but people should bring feeding dishes, food and water, immunization papers and other pet supplies.
For more information on how to prepare for any type of emergency, visit www.ReadyNC.org. For more the latest forecast, watches and warnings in your area visit http://weather.gov.