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Hoke Dam Breaks; Eastern N.C. Assesses Storm

Posted Updated

RAEFORD — Some Hoke County residents are dealing with a nasty effect of Hurricane Irene -- a dam broke Monday morning, leading to evacuations and damage to homes.

Sunset Lake Dam broke around 10:45 a.m. Hoke County sheriff's deputies evacuated homes downstream. The evacuees were taken to East Hoke Middle School.

There's a strong possibility dozens of houses will flood. Deputies are urging people to stay away from the Davis Bridge community.

The Hoke County situation demonstrates that while Irene may be gone, her memory lingers on as residents of eastern North Carolina endure flood-related problems. Emergency shelters opened Sunday night in many counties west of I-95, and evacuation orders and curfews were in place for some low-lying areas.

The eastern coastal plain, still waterlogged from Hurricane Floyd's record flood waters, is vulnerable to further flooding.

As Irene moved away from land, the National Weather Service dropped hurricane warnings at 11 p.m. Sunday.

Dangerous rip currents are still possible today, and anyone planning a beach trip should be very cautious. A small craft advisory continues. Small craft should not venture out on the water.

A number of accidents have been reported due to rain andflooded roads. Emergency managers are advising motorists to avoid Interstates 40 and 95. A mudslide has closed US 401 near Lafayette Ford in Hoke County.

Many secondary roads are closed and theDepartment of Transportationreports 95 roads are still closed due to Hurricane Floyd.

As creeks and rivers like the Neuse and Tar rise, flash flooding will make the roads even more dangerous.

A tornado spawned by the hurricane touched down near Elizabeth City around 7 p.m. Authorities say it downed power lines and trees and may have damaged some mobile homes in the area. No injuries have been reported.

Three hundred National Guardsmen were on duty Sunday night. Ten water rescue teams are on standby and 39 Guard armories are open as shelters.

State emergency managers say thousands of people are spending the night in shelters, many of them flooded out of their homes by Hurricane Floyd and forced from temporary trailers set up byFEMA.

At Atlantic Beach, rain had slowed by evening -- and the forecast was for clearing across the entire area for today.

But before circumstances changed, county emergency management officials made very attempt to minimize injuries and property losses.

Brunswick County issued a mandatory evacuation for the entire county. Bald Head Island, Oak Island, Caswell Beach, Holden Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, and Sunset Beach issued mandatory evacuation orders.

Shelters opened in many areas, ferry service ceased and bridges closed.

The storm also led organizers to close the N.C. Oyster Festival in Shallotte prematurely.

The town of Kure Beach was closed to all non-residents as of 11:45 Sunday morning. Town officials are also encouraging citizens to stay in their homes and off the roads.

Officials in Topsail Beach ordered a mandatory evacuation at 7 Sunday morning and the town was closed at 3 p.m. After that time, people were not permitted into the town, and those who stayed were restricted to their private property.

All federal and state disaster recovery centers that opened in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd closed Sunday and Monday. FEMA officials say they do not want anyone travelling through the heavy rain and possible flooding caused by Irene. Recovery centers are expected to reopen Tuesday at 8 a. m.

American Red Cross Service Centers across the state were also closed Sunday because of the hurricane.

In an interview Sunday with WRAL-TV5 News, North Carolina Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety, Richard Moore, said erosion is still a concern along the North Carolina coast. He said some houses may be toppled.

And Moore said money will be there to rebuild and that, "We are not going to stop until eastern North Carolina is back on its feet." amdMichelle Singer

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Kay Miller, Web Editor

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