Perdue tours 6 ravaged counties

Staff WritersApril 18, 2011 

— Gov. Bev Perdue spent more than six hours touring tornado damage across the state Sunday, concluding with a sidewalk news conference near hard-hit Shaw University a few blocks from the Executive Mansion in downtown Raleigh.

"Despite all the damage, the thing we heard the most today was how grateful people are to be alive," said Perdue. "I ask that everyone do what they can to support the Red Cross and local shelters, and to keep everyone affected in your prayers."

Perdue and her husband, Bob Eaves, toured six counties to survey damage left by a string of tornadoes, said to be the most devastating to hit North Carolina since 1984. During the tour, Perdue spoke with President Obama, who pledged "whatever it takes to rebuild North Carolina." Perdue planned to visit Bertie, Halifax and Wilson counties this morning.

Perdue issued a state of emergency declaration Saturday night and waived weight restrictions on heavy trucks to allow relief supplies and crews to begin the recovery process. Local states of emergency have been declared in Bertie, Bladen, Cumberland, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hoke, Johnston, Lee, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson and Wake counties.

Perdue was attending a horse race in Kentucky on Saturday, visiting with that state's Democratic governor as the line of deadly storms swept across North Carolina.

When she learned of the extent of damage from the tornadoes, she cut the trip short and returned to Raleigh on Saturday evening, according to Perdue spokesman Mark Johnson.

Perdue's whereabouts were something of a mystery Saturday as there was no appearance or public statement from the governor in the hours after the storm.

The governor was not present at the 8 p.m. media briefing, and state Emergency Management Director Doug Hoell indicated he had not yet spoken directly with her.

michael.biesecker@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4698

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