Hurricane Irene

Dare County continues to struggle with re-building and with high job loss since Hurricane Irene hit two months ago. 

The latest unemployment numbers from across the state show a majority of counties experienced a drop in their jobless rates.  But not Dare County.  In August – the unemployment rate in Dare County was 7-point-5-percent – much lower than the national and the state rate.  But in September - the jobless rate was nearly two points higher.  Kenny Kee manages the Employment Security Commission office in Nags Head.  He says people couldn’t get to work after the storm.

State agricultural officials travel to eastern North Carolina this week to get an update on recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irene. Leaders from the state Department of Agriculture will meet with farmers today in Rocky Mount and Thursday in Winton. Former Congressman Bob Etheridge is an advisor to the governor for hurricane recovery. He says some crop damage might not be covered by state or federal disaster funds.

Wayne Goodwin
NC DOI

The North Carolina Department of Insurance has set up a series of temporary insurance assistance centers in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Irene. The centers are designed to help customers who believe they are not being treated fairly by insurance companies.

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin decided to open the centers after his office fielded a steady stream of complaints from customers in coastal counties.

Goodwin says many complaints have centered on non-existent or non-communicative insurance adjusters.

Small businesses on Hatteras Island are struggling to turn a profit a month after Hurricane Irene swept across the Outer Banks. That's despite a decision from the Department of Transportation earlier this month to restart ferry service for both visitors and residents. Keith Andre owns a construction business in Frisco. He says building centers that usually provide his equipment are nearly empty.

FEMA's announcement that it won't run out of funds this week is good news for counties in eastern North Carolina. Local governments have been fronting the bill for disaster relief without a guarantee of reimbursement after Hurricane Irene. In Hyde County, health director Wesley Smith says officials ordered an insecticide spray from low-flying planes for 20,000 acres. He says flooding caused a boom in the mosquito population.

Residents of Hatteras Island will be allowed to return home today.

AAA Carolinas expects more drivers on the road this holiday weekend despite damage from Hurricane Irene. The agency says about 870,000 motorists will be traveling in North Carolina over the Labor Day weekend. That's about 1 percent more than this time last year. And AAA Carolinas spokesman Tom Crosby says that includes areas with storm damage.

Public schools across eastern North Carolina are implementing backup plans for classes due to extensive damage from Hurricane Irene. In Tyrrell County, all but one public school building were breached by three feet of water and sewage. Students there are on a limited schedule in makeshift classrooms until further notice. State school support director Ben Matthews says coastal districts are still trying to come up with estimates for how much it will cost to repair their schools.

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.

Agriculture officials say most of North Carolina’s biggest and most profitable farming operations are in the state’s coastal region that was hit hard by Hurricane Irene.  

Tobacco was one of the hardest hit crops during Hurricane Irene – a 750-million dollar industry.  Brian Long is with the state Agriculture Department.

Brian Long:  "If you think about how much tobacco was still out there, yet to be harvested, and then, Irene’s wind and rain just did a really big number on that crop."

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