Saturday, April 16, 2011

Where was Governor "Bev" Perdue when the lights went out? AWOL?

Verne Strickland Blogmaster

As North Carolinians assessed the damage from multiple tornados that swept through the region Saturday afternoon, there was no word from the state's chief executive in the hours after the storm passed.

Update added at the bottom of this post.

Perdue's communications director, Chrissy Pearson, e-mailed a media release at 5:24 p.m. saying that the governor's staff was on "full activation."

"Right now we are obviously concerned for the safety of our friends and neighbors, and will anxiously watch the storms push east this evening," Pearson wrote.

However, Pearson did not respond to an e-mail or a phone message seeking more information about where the governor was. Perdue was not present at an 8 p.m. media briefing in Raleigh from state emergency management officials.

There was no word about whether Perdue would declare an official state of emergency, as often happens following a natural disaster. Local officials in Wake and Cumberland, two of the state's hardest-hit counties, made their own state-of-emergency declarations.

Reached on her cell phone at 9:06 p.m., Pearson said the governor had been out-of-state attending to a family obligation. However, Pearson refused to say where Perdue was or when the governor might return to the capital.

Pearson said she believed the governor was at that time receiving a briefing about the damage from the storm.
"It was not a good day for her to be traveling," Pearson said.

She referred additional questions to Mark Johnson, Perdue's deputy communications director.
Johnson could not immediately be reached.

UPDATE: Perdue's staff issued a media release at 10:16 p.m. saying she would hold a briefing in Raleigh at 11 p.m. She announced at the late night media conference that she had declared a state of emergency.