EASTERN CAROLINA - It was one of the costliest hurricanes in United States history, leading to almost $16 billion in damage and nearly 60 deaths. Tuesday marks two years since Hurricane Irene made landfall in Eastern Carolina.
Throughout Tuesday, NewsChannel 12 will be airing special reports that look back at the devastating storm and check how victims are still recovering.
IRENE MAKES LANDFALL
When Irene hit Cape Lookout at about 7 a.m.on Aug. 27, 2011, it was a category one hurricane with winds between 74 and 95 mph. Irene became the first hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since Ike struck Texas in Sept. 2008, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
DAMAGE IN NORTH CAROLINA
Beaufort, Pamlico and Hyde Counties suffered the worst damage from Irene, according to state officials.
In Beaufort County, several homes and buildings were destroyed, including the 133-year-old Dublin Grove Church in Aurora (pictured below). But thanks to donations, church members were able to raise the $300,000 needed to rebuild.
In nearby Pamlico County, the storm brought 8 to 20 feet of water inside Pamlico County Middle School (pictured below). About 300 students were displaced for almost nine months. The school has since been renovated and reopened.
Irene also damaged the Pamlico Correctional Institute. The storm flooded parts of the prison and tore off sections of the roof. Almost 600 inmates had to be evacuated, officials said.
In addition, one of the oldest churches in Pamlico County was ravaged by Irene. As of April 2013, services had not resumed at the Zion Hill United Church of Christ in Merritt, as members continued to raise money for repairs.
Even first responders in Pamlico County needed help. The Goose Creek Volunteer Fire Department was flooded under almost 5 feet of water. They are working on constructing a new building, a project that is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.
Flooding was so bad in Pamlico County, leaders of Oriental had to stop operations at the town hall and move into a trailer. A new town hall has since been constructed, one that includes several features to prevent another flooding.
Elsewhere in Eastern Carolina, Irene damaged Highway 12 and created flooding that cut off Hatteras Island from the mainland (pictured below). About 2,500 people who defied mandatory evacuation orders were stranded, emergency officials said.
Kill Devil Hills experienced 31 hours of nonstop rainfall by midnight and waters were knee-deep, first responders said. Meanwhile, the nearby town of Wanchese was reportedly underwater.
In Atlantic Beach, Irene ripped shingles and sidings off buildings, knocked down a church steeple, and flooded homes. A popular hotel in the town, the DoubleTree by Hilton (formerly the Sheraton), suffered severe water damage to its interior. After extensive repairs and renovations, the hotel reopened in June 2013.
Irene also collapsed parts of the Atlantic Beach pier and the Bogue Inlet pier in Emerald Isle (pictured below).
Further inland, Irene caused enough damage to the Bridgepointe Marina in New Bern to shut it down. Repairs began in May 2013 and were expected to be completed by July.
In neighboring Pitt County, Irene caused about $1.7 million in damage to ECU, according to school officials. The storm downed trees, broke dormitory windows and battered roofs on many buildings.
Wind damage could be found throughout Greenville, including a Burger King on Charles Boulevard (pictured below).
Irene stayed over North Carolina for longer than a hurricane typically does, pushing water into areas that have never suffered hurricane flooding, state officials said. Overall, Irene caused more than $1.2 billion in damage and about 660,000 power outages in the state.
Continued on next page (Deaths, Irene Moves Out of N.C., Lasting Impact)
DEATHS IN NORTH CAROLINA
Hurricane Irene was blamed for seven deaths in North Carolina. In Onslow County, a man was boarding up his windows when he suffered a heart attack and died, said emergency officials. It happened a day before the storm made landfall.
In Sampson County, a mother died on the morning of Aug. 27 when a tree fell on a car carrying her and two family members, authorities said.
Also on Aug. 27, a tree limb fell on a man outside his Nash County home, killing him, said investigators.
Later that day, a 15-year-old girl was killed when the SUV she was in crashed with another vehicle at a Goldsboro intersection, police said. That intersection did not have power to the traffic lights because of Hurricane Irene. The family was returning from Myrtle Beach, S.C. to northern Virginia when they were thrown from the vehicle.
In Pitt County, Irene toppled a tree into an Ayden home (pictured below). Police said they later discovered a man's body inside the building. According to family, 51-year-old Tim Avery was found dead in his favorite blue recliner.
Another man in Pitt County died after he drove through standing water, went off a road and hit a tree, investigators said.
On Aug. 28, New Hanover County deputies said they recovered the body of Melton Robinson, Jr., who fell or jumped into the Cape Fear River as Irene approached.
IRENE MOVES OUT OF N.C.
Irene made another landfall in the Little Egg Inlet in New Jersey on Aug. 28. But by that time, it had weakened to a tropical storm, according to the NOAA. A few hours later, Irene made its final landfall in Brooklyn, N.Y. On Aug. 29, Irene reached Vermont and New Hampshire as an extratropical cyclone.
The storm caused 58 deaths in the U.S., according to the Associated Press. In addition, at least eight fatalities were reported in the Caribbean, and one death occurred in Canada.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Irene caused almost $16 billion in damage, making it the seventh costliest hurricane in U.S. history. The top three most expensive hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. were Katrina (2005, $108 million), Sandy (2013, $65 million), and Ike (2008, $29.5 billion).
Hurricane Irene became the country's 10th billion-dollar disaster in 2011, breaking the annual record dating back to 1980, the NOAA reported.