Pate will help state evaluate tornado response
By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on May 9, 2011 1:46 PM
State Sen. Louis Pate is helping head a special new legislative committee examining how well-prepared state and local officials were for last month's tornadoes that tore through 18 counties, killing 24 people.
Pate explained that the committee would be looking at how well officials have responded to the disasters, as well as what could have been done differently to prepare for them.
"We're going to look at the state's response and the local governments' response and the emergency response, and see if some improvements can be made or what changes might be needed for all types of natural disasters, but specifically tornadoes," he said. "Tornadoes are the most unpredictable. It's not like a hurricane where you have several days warning and can evacuate."
He said, however, that the Joint Select Committee on Tornado Damage Response was not formed because of any apparent failings on the part of state or local officials, but simply as a way to investigate if anything could be done better.
"With the use of hindsight, this is just a way for us to see if there is a better way to do things. I'm not sure there is. I'm pretty satisfied with what I've seen going on," he said.
One thing he said he would like to see discussed is the viability of a siren warning system. Other issues the committee is expected to address is what more, if anything, can be done to help future storm victims recover.
The committee's first meeting was expected to be held today at 4 p.m. in Raleigh with state emergency and federal FEMA officials. Later meetings, Pate said, will be held across the 18 counties to meet with local officials.
Pate, a Republican who represents Wayne, Greene and Pitt counties, is sharing the committee's leadership with state Rep. Mike Stone, R-Lee County.
"The members on the committee are representatives and senators from the districts suffering damage," Pate said.
It is expected to make a report during the General Assembly's 2012 short session.