Environment

US Senator Kay Hagan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and Governor Bev Perdue
hagan.senate.gov

Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands remain cut off from the mainland after Hurricane Irene dumped water and sand on several parts of Highway 12. There are several breaches in the highway just north of Rodanthe. Governor Bev Perdue says officials are doing all they can.

Dare County officials are asking residents to conserve power as utilities set up emergency generators on Hatteras Island. Parts of the main highway on the Outer Banks were washed away in four spots near Rodanthe. That left residents who waited out the storm stranded on Hatteras Island. Dare County spokeswoman Cathryn Bryan says emergency crews are taking bare essentials to the hardest hit areas.

Hurricane Irene's flood waters caused some waste water treatment plants to overflow in the eastern part of the state while cutting off power to others. State officials are warning people in flooded areas to avoid contact with contaminated water as they begin the arduous task of clean up. Susan Massengale works for the North Carolina Division of Water Quality.

Hurricane Irene is gone but its effects linger on. The storm couldn't have come at a worse time for an area that relies on its tourism industry. Irene completely washed out a section of Highway 12 just north of Rodanthe. That means the only way to reach Hatteras Island as the important Labor Day Weekend approaches is by boat. Michael Gardener is manager of the Sea Side Inn in Hatteras Village.

A state panel is close to finishing a report for the governor on whether oil and natural gas drilling should be permitted off the North Carolina coast. The governor established the Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy nearly two years ago. Attorney Willis Whichard chairs the panel.

Willis Whichard: "The idea is not for us to solve the policy or political problems regarding these difficult and contentious issues, but to give her and other policymakers the information they need to process and come to decisions."

The state Department of Transportation says storm surge from Hurricane Irene has completely washed away segments of Highway 12 on Hatteras Island. The storm cut several channels through the road just north of Rodanthe. Highway 12 connects the island to the rest of the Outer Banks and the mainland. DOT spokeswoman Greer Beaty says much of the road is still impassible.

Cleaning Up After Irene

Aug 29, 2011
Powerlines down in Pamlico County
Dave DeWitt

People all across eastern North Carolina are cleaning up and drying out after Hurricane Irene. Damage ranged from a new inlet on Highway 12 on the Outer Banks to downed trees across the coastal plain. Among the hardest hit areas were Carteret, Craven, and Pamlico Counties, near New Bern and Morehead City. Irene made its initial landfall there as a furious category one hurricane and left a trail of destruction.

Total rainfall amounts from Irene
National Weather Service Raleigh

Hurricane Irene unloaded more than a foot of rain on top of storm surge in eastern North Carolina. Flood waters swept into towns near the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds as ocean water spilled into narrow inlets, and then into neighborhoods. Meteorologist Brandan Dunstan says the massive storm spread hurricane-force wind gusts and rain from the coast to the Piedmont.

Maximum wind gusts during Hurricane Irene
National Weather Service Raleigh

Summary:

NC Emergency Management - news and emergency information

State Emergency Hotline:  1-888-835-9966

National Hurricane Center - latest forecast information

Federal Emergency Management Agency

American Red Cross

American Red Cross Safe and Well - List yourself as OK and search for loved ones

NCDOT - Road information

Irene is blowing across the Outer Banks now as a Category 1 hurricane. Dare County spokeswoman Dorothy Toolan says there's a section of Highway 12 north of Rodanthe that's washed over with sand and water. D-O-T is saying the road is intact.

Dorothy Toolan:  "This storm is just moving past Hatteras and the winds are starting to shift so we've still got a ways to go and as some of the bands move through, we have some lulls. You know, we're trying to remind folks that it's going to be with us for a while and they need to stay indoors."

Hurricane Irene is moving across the Outer Banks this morning. Will Michaels reports the storm was downgraded to a category 1 hurricane, but residents are still seeing high winds and surf up and down the coast.

Irene is cutting a path along the coast between the Outer Banks and the mainland. Meteorologist John Cole is taking cover at the National Weather Service in Morehead City.

Highways leading out of coastal communities are jammed with people evacuating ahead of Hurricane Irene.

From Cape Fear to Elizabeth City, two-and-four lane roads are packed with vacationers, displaced residents, and motorists trailing boats. All are headed for higher ground.

Sergeant Jeff Gordon is with the State Highway Patrol.

The outer bands of Hurricane Irene are making their way across eastern North Carolina. The National Weather Service reports steady rainfall in the Wilmington area and swells of six to nine feet along the Outer Banks. Tommy Hutcherson owns the Ocracoke Variety Store. He says he's making some last-minute preparations before conditions get worse.

Storm Surge Poses Risk

Aug 26, 2011

Towns along the western edge of Pamlico Sound are preparing for storm surge when Hurricane Irene hits.

" Not surprisingly, storm surge is worst when the wind is blowing water right at you. That makes the exact track of Irene so important. If the center of the storm tracks directly over Pamlico Sound, towns like New Bern and Swansboro could be in for significant surge."

Rick Luettich is the director of the University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Science in Morehead City.

The American Red Cross is moving equipment and personnel into place to help people who may be affected by Hurricane Irene. Timm Heisey with the Red Cross says 45 emergency response vehicles are being staged in Raleigh. He says many Triangle residents signed up to be volunteers after the April tornadoes.

State officials are once again urging residents of eastern North Carolina to prepare for Hurricane Irene. Forecasters say the storm is likely to pass directly over the Outer Banks Saturday evening as a Category 3 hurricane. Governor Bev Perdue declared a state of emergency for all counties east of I-95 this morning. Perdue says federal agencies are now ready to respond to potential storm damage.

Hurricane Irene
nasa.gov

Evacuations are underway on Ocracoke Island ahead of Hurricane Irene. Lucy Wallace is spokeswoman for the Ocracoke Ferry Office.

State officials say residents in eastern North Carolina should prepare for the worst if Hurricane Irene brings high winds to the area. Visitors began leaving Ocracoke Island this morning and local officials have issued a mandatory evacuation for residents starting tomorrow. Governor Bev Perdue asked coastal residents this morning to prepare an evacuation plan.

Bev Perdue: "We want folks there to take this storm seriously and to get prepared. We do this regularly in North Carolina. We know how to do it. We are preparing for the worst. Get that plan together today... please."

Hurricane Irene
nasa.gov

The town of Ocracoke and Hyde County has issued a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Irene. There's a mandatory evacuation in place for visitors and a voluntary one for residents. But residents will have a mandatory evacuation starting at 5 am tomorrow. Hyde County spokeswoman Jamie Tunnell says people considering staying should heed the warnings.

Quake Felt in NC

Aug 23, 2011

People across North Carolina felt the 5.9-magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia.

Earthquakes might be rarer on the east coast than they are in the west. But Laura Wagner, assistant professor of seismology at UNC Chapel Hill, explains why tremors here can be felt over such long distances.

Hurricane Irene
nasa.gov

North Carolina forecasters are keeping an eye on Hurricane Irene as it makes its way toward the southeast. The storm became a Category 2 hurricane late last night and is expected to strengthen to Category 3 later today. Meteorologist Katie Roussy says the latest forecast has North Carolina in the path of the storm.

Federal officials are recognizing the work of state water quality and transportation officials in protecting wetlands. The Federal Highway Administration is presenting the state Division of Water Quality and Department of Transportation with two awards. Susan Massengale is a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. She says one award is for the development of an advanced modeling system that produces accurate maps of streams and wetlands.

An Asian beetle that first turned up in Michigan is threatening to spread to North Carolina. The Emerald Ash Borer arrived in the U.S. about ten years ago. Since then it's spread from the midwest, to most of the states surrounding North Carolina. Brian Haines works for the state Forest Service.

The City of Fayetteville wants the remaining damaged homes from the April 16th tornadoes cleaned up. The twisters that swept across the state left thousands of homes damaged or destroyed. Scott Shuford, Fayetteville's Development Services Director, says they've identified 85 homes in need of extensive cleanup or repair four months after the storms hit. He says they don't have any jurisdiction to do anything about homes that are just eye-sores.

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has voted to place annual catch limits on some fish. The council is charged with preventing over-fishing off the coast of North Carolina and other south Atlantic states. The panel voted this week to limit catch totals on species like mackerel, grouper, and dolphin fish. Mike Leonard of the American Sportfishing Association says recreational fishermen are worried the decision could lead to stricter rules for more popular fish.

Corolla Wild Horses
corollawildhorses.com

The death of a two-week old horse in Corolla has led a conservation group to hire beach patrols to educate the public about the wild horses that roam there. The horse died after being fed, which is against the law. Karen McCalpin is Executive Director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. She says her small staff wasn't able to adequately protect the horses in their 11 mile, 75-hundred acre habitat.

A brown pelican blown off course nearly a year ago by Hurricane Earl has been released into the wild on the North Carolina coast. The seabird nicknamed "Ralph" was found injured on the roof of a building in Nova Scotia last September. Ralph was transported earlier this year to the Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter in Newport. The nickname stuck despite the fact that Ralph is a female. Clinic supervisor Maria Rush says Ralph completed the rehabilitation process this weekend.

ncdrought.org
ncdrought.org

State officials are taking steps to stay on top of the drought in North Carolina that's becoming more and more severe. The North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council met July 21st in Williamston face-to-face in an acknowledgement of the severity of the issue. The focus of the meeting was mostly on the drought's impact on agriculture in the eastern part of the state. A recent federal map classified most of eastern North Carolina in the "severe" drought category. Ten counties in the southeast were listed in the "extreme" drought category. Spokeswoman for the State Division of Water Resources Sarah Young says the last time we saw extreme drought conditions was in December of 2008.

Chatham county officials take a step toward protecting the area's natural resources today. The Comprehensive Conservation Plan for Chatham County is the first of its kind in North Carolina. An event being held in Pittsboro this afternoon will unveil details of the voluntary program. Leigh Ann Hammerbacher works for the Triangle Land Conservancy which contributed to the plan.

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