New Bern hopes for Labor Day tourism

Posted August 31, 2011

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— The city of New Bern was moving full speed ahead Wednesday to clear tree limbs, branches and other debris left in roadways and the downtown business district by Hurricane Irene in the hopes that people planning to visit for Labor Day weekend will keep their plans.

In addition to its own crews, the city hired 80 private contractors to speed up the clean-up process, said city spokeswoman Colleen Roberts. Four million pounds of yard waste has been removed from the city so far.

New Bern was blanketed in floodwaters, as deep as 7 feet in some places, after Irene overflowed the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound on Saturday. About 150 homes were damaged and six were destroyed.

The waters had receded by Wednesday, but the mess left behind was still piled on curbs, waiting to be hauled away.

Clean-up ongoing, but New Bern is open for business Clean-up ongoing, but New Bern is open for business

Five downtown businesses were damaged beyond repair, but Roberts said the remaining businesses are open and eager for a big tourist weekend.

"We don't have flooding situations here anymore," she said. "Our businesses are open and our restaurants are open, so we encourage folks to still make their plans if they're coming for Labor Day weekend."

The Hilton hotel had to rip out all of its first-floor carpets and plans to replace its roof, manager Michael McMahon said.  Though 35 of its rooms were damaged, the hotel plans to stay open during the repairs, which could take up to 10 weeks.

"We were lucky – very, very lucky," McMahon said. "Our meeting space and our conference rooms were bone dry."

Power has been restored to 90 percent of New Bern's residents, and city officials hope to restore the rest by Friday.

The city is known for its old-world charm. It is Gov. Bev Perdue's hometown and the former state capital.


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  • gregonbike Aug 31, 2011

    Looking forward to the following weekend in New Bern, for the Bike MS event. Beautiful town to visit!

  • BadDayforButch Aug 31, 2011

    I was going to take the family there for the labor day weekend but with all the bad news I have seen in the paper and news and Bev going around hurriedly declaring a state of emergency, talking about all the destruction she has seen etc...what's the point ? We are going to Myrtle Beach now instead.

  • alx Aug 31, 2011

    New Bern is a great town just look at the pojects & drug dealing outside of tryon palace.. classy

  • Shamrock Aug 31, 2011

    New Bern is a beautiful town and a great place for a quick getaway.

  • bjrenegar Aug 31, 2011

    Bev Perdue was born in Grundy, Virginia. New Bern is therefore her adopted hometown.

  • Screw WrAl Aug 31, 2011

    " what does New Bern have as a big tourist attraction? "

    A socks and shoes museum and a damaged marina.

  • Screw WrAl Aug 31, 2011

    yes, if you wear your rubber boots and take a canoe just to be safe, this should be the place for you. Especially since OBX is not open for business in many areas.

  • kristy3 Aug 31, 2011

    New Bern is a nice place to visit! :) I went earlier this year & really enjoyed the stay.... So yes, I agree that the city should invest in some marketing.

  • dgcreech Aug 31, 2011

    I was just curious. Like people hear about the mountains all the time, people hear about various areas in Raleigh (museums and such), Charlotte and similar. Nobody discusses New Bern, which is why I was asking.

    By the way, learning to type has nothing to do with where you come from but when the Shift key is accidentally left off for a single character, doesn't necessarily mean that the person doesn't know how to type.

    Perhaps New Bern's town council should invest in marketing. Living in central NC, the only two things I have ever heard of for attractions in New Bern are bridges/water, and Tryon Palace.

  • same ole story Aug 31, 2011

    They can hope all they want but NO ONE that I know will be going anywhere near the beach until it is totally cleaned up. Money is tight enough now and am sure not going to be spending it in a "war zone".