Coastal residents anxious to get home

Posted August 29, 2011 11:13 a.m. EDT
Updated August 29, 2011 5:25 p.m. EDT

— Some storm victims who left their homes in the wake of Hurricane Irene's impact on North Carolina Saturday say they are anxious to get back to their homes so they can assess the damage that the Category 1 storm caused.

About 112 people – most of them from hard-hit Hyde and Tyrrell counties along the coast – were staying at an American Red Cross shelter at Englewood Baptist Church Monday morning, including Lloyd Liverman.

"I've been here ever since Thursday," Liverman, of Tyrrell County, said. "I don't know anything about my property or whatever. They said they were going to pick us up Sunday, but I'm still here."

Emergency management officials in Tyrrell County haven't said when residents will be allowed back in their homes. The county chartered buses last week to carry residents to safety as part of a voluntary evacuation.

"I haven't heard anything (about going home)," said Vernice Gibbs, also from Tyrrell County. "I asked them, but they didn't know."

The American Red Cross says it is working to open a shelter closer to Tyrrell County for storm victims, but organizers say that their priority, right now, is keeping people safe.

Tyrrell County's emergency management officials say they are waiting for damage assessment teams to survey the area before bringing residents home. Those teams are scheduled to arrive Tuesday.

Gov. Bev Perdue, who made a stop at the shelter Monday morning while surveying storm damage across the state, said emergency response teams across the state are working hard to respond to the residents' needs.

Meanwhile Monday morning, power crews raced to restore electricity to about 8,500 customers in Nash County. Crews were also out cleaning up debris from the storm.

Initial storm damage estimates amount to about $2.5 million, which the county will have to pay for. Right now, Perdue is only seeking a federal disaster declaration for seven coastal counties – Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Dare, Hyde, Pamlico and Tyrrell.

She says, however, that more counties might be added as emergency management teams continue to assess damage across the eastern third of the state.

The federal government already approved an emergency declaration in 34 counties that gave local governments federal money to help them prepare before Hurricane Irene struck Saturday.