Hurricane Irene damage assessment, cleanup underway
RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Governor Beverly Perdue announced Wednesday morning that seven North Carolina counties have been approved for federal disaster assistance because of damage from Hurricane Irene.
The disaster declaration approved by President Obama covers: Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Dare, Hyde, Pamlico and Tyrrell counties.
In Wanchese and Aurora Beach, located in Beaufort and Pamlico counties, residents are recovering from widespread devastation and loss of homes. It is estimated that hundreds have suffered total losses.
Perdue had asked the federal government on Monday to declare the coastal counties disaster areas so homeowners and businesses could get help for property.
The declaration came after the governor spent her third day assessing emergency response and visiting with local officials to discuss the devastation caused by the storm. Additional counties may be added later as local, state and federal teams complete preliminary damage assessments as crews continue work to restore power, clear debris and open roadways.
The governor got a chance to speak to two officials from the Obama administration on Tuesday. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack surveyed crop damage caused by Irene.
Perdue said preliminary estimates of damages to residents and businesses should be ready by the end of the week. The governor also said damage to tobacco, soybean and corn crops are of a magnitude that she hadn't seen before. Thirty-four counties already are getting federal help to pay for the immediate storm response.
"I urged our federal partners to move quickly on this request for assistance, and they did," Perdue said. "We're grateful for that rapid response. Our fellow North Carolinians who suffered losses during this storm need to start rebuilding their lives now - not tomorrow."
The presidential declaration enables the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide low-interest loans or grants to hurricane survivors to help them repair their homes, pay medical costs, rebuild their businesses and begin the long recovery process. The federal grants and loans are intended to help disaster survivors restore their primary residences to safe, sanitary and a functional condition. Secondary residences are not eligible for federal assistance.
Coastal communities aren't the only ones dealing with Hurrican Irene's aftermath.
In Rocky Mount, nearly three thousand residents remain without power and their supplies are dwindling.
Many residents are relying on generators.
"We had at one time on Saturday, 26,000 people without power," said Rocky Mount Mayor David Combs. "Got it down pretty quickly to 16, then nine. Today, I'm glad to say it's less than 3,000."
There is no exact date for when all power will be restored, but it should happen by Friday.
Coastal communities continue to assess damage and begin cleanup while dealing with logistical issues like getting to their property.
Hatteras Island, one of the jewels of the state's tourism industry, was cut off from the mainland when water rushing into the Pamlico Sound destroyed at least five portions of state Highway 12, the only road leading to the barrier island.
Transportation officials have given no estimate on how long emergency repairs to the two-lane highway will take. But Perdue indicated it could be longer than the two months needed to rebuild the road in 2003 when Hurricane Isabel chewed a new channel into Hatteras Island.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation has created a mapwith markers linked to its aerial photos of the beaches on N.C. 12 on the Outer Banks.
A ferry captain told ABC11 Tuesday that one of two 50-ton generators had been delivered to the island to help restore power. Some permanent residents who evacuated (green sticker) will now be allowed to return. A tractor trailer full of ice should arrive by Tuesday, Dare County spokeswoman Kathryn Bryan said.
The Dare County Sheriff's Office has established a curfew for local residents as well as for those trying to access Hatteras Island. A statement issued Monday night said the nightly curfew is in effect from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. until further notice. The curfew also applies to anyone attempting to gain access to Hatteras Island by any type of watercraft. Officials say Coast Guard boats will be patrolling the area.
While the rest of the tourism season on Hatteras Island appears shot, the rest of the state's beaches began a push to bring people back, as the holiday weekend loomed.
Currituck County reopened the Outer Banks areas of Corolla and Carova Beach to the general public Tuesday morning. Officials said a state of emergency has been lifted. NC 12 had been impassable past the Town of Duck.
There still are plenty of people in North Carolina who have not yet made it back to see how Irene left their homes. Roughly 1,000 people remained in shelters Monday.
Perdue said the Governor's hurricane hotline is open for people who need help. Residents can call (888) 835-9966. The deaf and hard of hearing can call (877) 877-1765. More is also available at www.readync.org
Residents needing assistance can also call:
- FEMA (800) 621-3362
- Red Cross (800) 999-6828
Help is available in Dare County through Dare County Social Services and the American Red Cross. If you need this assistance call (252) 475-5655.
Before attempting re-entry to Dare County, or the Currituck Outer Banks, visit www.darenc.com or call (877) 629-4386 for updated information regarding when re-entry will be permitted. Once re-entry is allowed, you should also call your accommodations provider to confirm that lodging will be available.
Residents can call (252) 232-6041 with questions regarding the shelter. For general storm-related information, citizens can call the Currituck Emergency Hotline at (252) 232-6010, visit www.CurrituckGovernment.com, www.VisitCurrituck.com, or follow CurrituckGov on Twitter.
Governor Perdue announced a North Carolina disaster relief fund Tuesday. Learn more at: www.ncdisasterrelief.org.
If you'd like to donate to the Red Cross for storm relief, you can do so at: www.american.redcross.org
nc hurricanes, hurricane irene, bev perdue, local/state
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