NC Hurricane Irene damages top $400 million

Hurricane Irene damage in Beaufort County (Alina Machado)
September 2, 2011 2:33:46 PM PDT
Gov. Bev Perdue announced a temporary plan Friday that would return traffic to all of N.C. 12 on the Outer Banks.

The plan involves the placement of a temporary bridge that would have traffic flowing in less than a month.

Click here for more details on the NCDOT web site.

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 from Hurricane Irene destroyed at least five portions of state Highway 12, the only road leading to the barrier island.

View NOAA aerial survey images of post-Irene from Outer Banks

The North Carolina Department of Transportation will install the manufactured bridge across the largest breach just south of the Bonner Bridge and fill all other breaches.

Officials said the short-term solution provides time for the NCDOT to develop a comprehensive, long-term plan.

The temporary repair is estimated to cost $10 million. Perdue said she has secured federal funding to cover the costs of the repairs.

Perdue also announced that she has secured federal approval for Currituck, Pitt, Onslow and Washington counties to be added to the federal disaster declaration in North Carolina.

On Thursday, the governor secured federal approval for Halifax and Lenoir counties to be added to the federal disaster declaration in North Carolina.

That brings the total number of counties approved for individual assistance to 13.

Damage estimates for North Carolina had topped $400 million as of Friday.

Perdue said in a statement Friday that agricultural losses lead the way at more than $320 million. They're followed by local government costs of more than $45 million and uninsured or underinsured home and business damage of more than $40 million.

"We continue to aggressively pursue any and all avenues to help survivors of Hurricane Irene get back on their feet," Perdue said. "I am committed to ensuring that the relief and recovery efforts occur as rapidly and seamlessly as possible."

Seven coastal counties - Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Dare, Hyde, Pamlico and Tyrrell - had already been approved after Perdue's initial request for federal disaster assistance to help local governments in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

Perdue also announced Thursday that the state has secured federal approval for public assistance for 20 counties to compensate local governments for removing debris and making infrastructure repairs.

The 20 counties are: Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Halifax, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Tyrrell and Wilson.

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.

The governor has been assessing emergency response and visiting with local officials since Sunday to discuss the devastation caused by the storm. The statewide damage estimate is expected to grow as counties report their figures.

Aftermath

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.

New photographs taken in the area Wednesday, show the damage.

The governor said earlier this week that damage to tobacco, soybean and corn crops are of a magnitude that she hadn't seen before.

Edgecombe County farmers suffered at least $44 million in crop damage from last weekend's storm, the local cooperative extension office said Thursday. The farm-service agency said 70 percent of the county's 8,500 acres of tobacco was damaged. Local farmers said the estimate is low.

Coastal communities continue to assess damage and begin cleanup while dealing with logistical issues like getting to their property.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has begun picking up of storm-related debris along state-maintained roads in Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Dare, Hyde, Pamlico and Tyrrell counties.

Dare County announced Friday it planned a staged re-entry for Hatteras Island residents starting Sunday morning, depending on where people live. The plan initially is for Buxton, Hatteras Village and Frisco residents to be able to return home via ferry in alphabetical order by their surnames.

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 for the holiday weekend.

Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle and the southern beaches, all the way to the South Carolina border are open.

Everything north of Rodanthe, including Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Duck, and Corolla, are open. However, authorities in Corolla have put out a red flag warning due to debris washing up on the beach.

And all beaches from Rodanthe south to Ocracoke - which includes Avon, Buxton, and Hatteras - are closed until further notice.

Assistance

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.

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.

Future

In an effort to ensure North Carolina is prepared for future natural disasters, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger announced Friday a bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Response.

The committee will be tasked with determining what actions the General Assembly should take to help Hurricane Irene relief efforts, and how best to prepare for similar storms and disasters in the future.

It is comprised of senators who hold leadership roles on issues involving disaster relief, as well as senators from districts hit hard by Irene. They will hold briefings with state and federal agencies and collect information on damage assessment and recovery across the state.

The General Assembly approved a budget in June that designated more than $183 million to the state's rainy day fund, increasing its balance to nearly $300 million. The state budget also set aside about $125 million into a repair and renovation fund.

Donate

Donations have already started to come in to the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund.

Governor Perdue announced the 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

Officials said the money would be going to those hit hardest by Hurricane Irene.

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