Emergency management headquarters handling calls for help from the coast

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- As Hurricane Arthur blows into North Carolina, several groups are helping communities in the path of the storm brace for the worst from the state capital in Raleigh.

On Thursday, North Carolina Emergency Management officially launched the Joint Operations Headquarters in response to the storm.

“Public safety and emergency management personnel have been monitoring the storm over the past few days and taking protective actions to ensure we are prepared,” said Commissioner Greg Baker, who oversees the Law Enforcement Division of the Department of Public Safety. “We will continue to work with local and county officials to provide assistance and aid in response and recovery efforts.”

There are about 100 people working at a time from a variety of agencies including public safety, health and human services and transportation.

The center coordinates help for communities when they experience storm related problems. Most of those requests come through a computerized network established by the state. By Thursday at noon, some communities had already requested swift water rescue help and urban search crews.

Those planning for this event said they’ve been going over what could happen for days.

“To gauge what we're going to need and making sure we monitor the requests,” said Callion Maddox, a planning specialist.

The center also uses meteorologists and mapping experts to anticipate problems like flooding. That helps emergency management leaders move help into position to help as soon as possible.

The North Carolina National Guard and State Troopers are also part of the effort and are on standby to help on the directives of emergency managers. They could help with road closures and other safety issues in response to the storm.