RALEIGH, N.C. — Governor Pat McCrory said Friday that eight people have died as a result of the winter storm that slammed North Carolina this week.
Over the past 24 hours, five people died including two people who suffered heart attacks while shoveling snow in Burke Co. and fatal wrecks in Wake Co. and Mecklenburg County that killed a total of three people.
“Last night a terrible tragedy occurred right here in Wake County where two Good Samaritans… stopped to help a stranded driver and they were struck by a hit-and-run driver,” McCrory said. “Our prayers are with these families and the other families.”
“I had hoped this storm would underwhelm us. It did not. It met our expectations and even overwhelmed us,” Gov. McCrory said on Friday.
Gov. McCrory said they are not aware of anyone that spent their night stranded in their car.
“We pulled in every agency we could to address areas where people were stranded. We called in wildlife officers, too,” McCrory said.
However, the governor said roads are still treacherous.
Gov. McCrory also said they are currently reviewing laws about school make-up days. They hope to make an announcement soon about flexibility.
McCrory said school superintendents and N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis have called to discuss concerns with the state laws regarding maximum missed school days.
“We are doing a very quick review of school days. I will be meeting with education officials in the early part of next week,” McCrory said. “I’m talking to my own chief legal counsel to see what authority I have to allow more flexibility in those counties impacted by so many days off. I have to make sure I follow the law and we’re reviewing all of our options and we hope to have some announcements in the early weeks,” Gov. McCrory said.
The governor said he will meet with the North Carolina Board of Education to discuss the situation across the state.
Gov. McCrory said the state has spent between $36 and $38 million of its $40 million DOT budget for storm assistance. The state’s budget will be renewed in July.
The governor said the $8.7 million in the state disaster relief fund was dedicated to earlier storm recovery. He said the state may have to dip into reserve budget over the next few weeks.
Gov. McCrory also said he anticipates the storm to have a negative long term impact on the state due to lost tax revenue at stores and less income tax because people were unable to work. He said they are reviewing “punitive” state personnel policies that punish state workers for not going to work during bad weather.
McCrory said drivers need to check with their local authorities about abandoned cars. However, the government will review state laws on moving abandoned vehicles and work to better coordinate efforts with cities and towns.
The governor also said we need more clarification on high school and college athletics during winter events, adding he would like to ask basketball conferences “What the heck were you doing on a bus last night?”
Gov. McCrory also thanked people across North Carolina for the generosity and willingness to help their neighbors.