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Dennis Batters N.C. Coast Again; Residents Brace for the Storm

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NORTH CAROLINA COAST — Tropical Storm Dennis came to shore along the North Carolina Coast shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday -- just a few days after meteorologists forecasted the storm would head out into the Atlantic Ocean.

Dennis, however, reversed its path three days ago, leaving coastal residents and businesses waiting to see what the storm would do next.

CP&L reported Saturday evening that 4,900 customers in the state were without power -- 3,200 in New Bern, 500 in Morehead City and 200 in Henderson. Very little power outages had been reported in the Triangle or surrounding area.

Residents had begun to return to their homes before Dennis' return, but were asked by emergency and law enforcement officials to evacuate again.

The return of the tropical storm to North Carolina's coast left many homeowners, business owners and vacationers counting their losses, as the shores of North Carolina face severe erosion.

Unlike most local business owners, Jane Murray and her husband were making money this Labor Day weekend.

Earlier Saturday in Kill Devil Hills, the Murrays were hauling away piled-up sand in front of rented vacation homes -- a sign of Dennis' presence days earlier.

Close by, Skip Wescott was boarding up his grandfather's souvenir shop. Dennis' initial visit shut it down 10 days ago. The extra business his grandfather was looking forward to this Labor Day weekend could be lost as well.

"We don't know what it's going to do," said Wescott.

Business owners say Dennis has cost them millions of dollars. Dennis chased most of the tourists from the central part of the coast. In Atlantic Beach alone, shop and property owners estimate their losses between $4-6 million. They estimate damage caused by wind and flooding will cost an additional $10 million.

While business owners continue to board up their property, beachfront homes have taken a long distance beating, some buckling under the pressure of Dennis.

The southern part of Nags Head in Dare County was hit hard by winds and rain earlier in the week, where 67 homes will have to be condemned.

But beachfront homeowners were holding on to hope.

"We've got a lot of leaking, through the front windows, the carpet's soaked, but generally the sand bags are doing a wonderful job -- they're protecting the house," said homeowner Gillian Young.

But many residents could not get to their beach homes because the main road to and from their homes -- Highway 12 -- was closed.

Residents of Beaufort County were protecting their property Saturday, and bracing for a long night, as flooding caused problems low-lying areas, such as the small town of Bellhaven.

Bellhaven's Main Street was completely under several feet of water Saturday evening.

Volunteers were putting sand bags in place and preparing for a long night. Locals said things could get worse at high tide, which would occur early Sunday morning. ,Todd HauerandKen Smith,,Lynn FrenchandJoe Frieda


Brian Bowman, Reporter
John Cox, Photographer
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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