Storm information offered

Published 9:09 pm Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene’s prolonged visit to eastern North Carolina is nearly over, and Beaufort County appears to have been spared deaths or injuries from the storm.

“We’ve had no injuries or deaths reported to us at this time,” Jim Chrisman, acting county manager, said tonight.

The county has imposed a mandatory, countywide curfew lasting overnight and running until noon tomorrow.

The curfew was issued to keep the roads clear for emergency workers and law enforcement and allow crews with the N.C. Department of Transportation to clear fallen trees or other debris from roadways, Chrisman explained.

The City of Washington also has in place a curfew through noon tomorrow.

More than 400 residents are weathering the night at the county’s two primary shelters, Washington High School and P.S. Jones Middle School in the Washington area, Chrisman related.

An undetermined number of Irene refugees fled to Northside High School in the Yeatesville area. Though the county did not designate Northside as a shelter, the evacuees were not turned away, and a representative of the American Red Cross was on hand to help out at the school, according to Chrisman.

“I know in some cases even today, early this morning and throughout the day, when the storm got really bad the folks that hadn’t evacuated yet, some of those sought shelter there at Northside,” he said.

Chrisman couldn’t confirm reports of structural damage around the county.

“I will preface that with the fact that we have numerous reports from state (Highway) Patrol, (Beaufort County) Sheriff’s Office, who have patrolled and moved from one area to the other, of trees that have fallen on homes and structural damage,” he said.

Officials in the county’s Emergency Management Office had received word of extensive flooding in Aurora, Belhaven and Washington.

Pamlico Beach, located in extreme eastern Beaufort County, “had some very high storm surges,” Chrisman pointed out.

“The prediction that we were given for storm surge was 8 to 11 feet down on the eastern parts of the county,” he said, adding it was unknown tonight whether those predictions had become reality.

Beginning tomorrow, damage assessments should reveal more information about storm surges and structural damage, Chrisman reported.

It was said that a wide swath of Beaufort County, perhaps the entire county, was without power at one point during the storm, he said. This couldn’t be confirmed immediately, Chrisman cautioned.

Scanner traffic indicated electrical problems resulting from roof and window leaks and flooding at some locations around Washington tonight. City personnel were responding to these calls.