ECU Hurricane Conference identifies weaknesses before hurricane season begins

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) - The official start of hurricane season begins just days away on June 1st and state emergency management leaders and other weather experts met Wednesday discussing preparations in the east.

Before Hurricane Florence, Emergency Management officials identified a shortage of about 192-thousand units of affordable housing. That's a number that's grown exponentially since the storm and remains a major area of focus heading into this upcoming hurricane season.

In addition to affordable housing, another main focus is on the ability to shelter large numbers of people.

State leaders say the number of people sheltered from Hurricane Matthew increased from about 4 or 5-thousand to more than 20-thousand people after Hurricane Florence.

Preparing for the upcoming hurricane season comes amid recovery efforts from three recent storms, Matthew, Florence, and Michael, makes planning for this year more of recovery versus simply planning.

With many of the FEMA programs and short-term efforts wrapping up, state officials say they're focused now on long-term plans.

Keith Acree with the NC Emergency Management said, "We're into the longer-term recovery programs, things like hazard mitigation. Where we looking at things like elevating houses or buying people out and moving them out of the flood plane. And using those Community Development Block Grant dollars from HUD to do many of the same things-- to repair homes, to rebuild homes, to get them out of the flood plane."

Between those three storm events, 75 of the 100 counties in the state were affected and some were hit multiple times as the state balances recovery efforts with preparation.