Hurricanes

Two dead in Pitt County after Hurricane Irene

Posted August 30, 2011 7:41 a.m. EDT
Updated August 30, 2011 10:01 a.m. EDT

Hurricane Irene toppled stately, century-old oaks in shady, historic neighborhoods in the Pitt County town of Ayden on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011.

— Falling trees toppled by Hurricane Irene's winds proved fatal in Pitt County, where efforts to open blocked roads, clean up debris and restore power continued Monday.

The center of Irene came within 60 miles of Ayden, a small town proud of its stately, century-old oaks and shady, historic neighborhoods. Trees toppled as the storm's winds buffeted the town for hours on end.

"The wind just kept coming and coming," Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks said. "The more rain, the more wind, the more downed trees we had."

Tim Avery, 50, died when a tree crashed into his Ayden home, Town Manager Adam Mitchell said.

Avery's sister went to check on him Sunday after she hadn't heard from him, and she discovered the tree on top of his house. Firefighters found Avery dead in a chair facing the television in his living room.

Jose Manuel Farabria Corona, 21, of Dover, died in a wreck on Saturday morning, but state troopers said they aren't sure if his death was weather-related. Corona's SUV ran off County Home Road and struck two trees. Troopers said that alcohol might have played a role.

Survivors of Hurricane Irene spent Monday getting things back together.

Workers hauling away debris and repairing power lines hadn't yet gotten to Third Avenue, where oak trees littered the road, sidewalks, yards and houses.

"This is probably the worst in Ayden," resident Ann Hawkins said.

"No attention's being paid to getting the main road open or the power restored, on this street anyway," resident Ken Davis said.

Ann Hawkins and her husband Dan said that 102-year-old oak trees barely missed their house. They sent their two daughters to live with relatives until power is back up.

"It's just very aggravating because we're all hot and hungry," Ann Hawkins said.

"Cold showers and a lot of grilling out," Dan Hawkins said.

About 1,700 homes and businesses – nearly 90 percent of Progress Energy's customers in Pitt county – remained without power Tuesday morning.

The sheriff's office enlisted inmates to help clear trees and debris from around G.R. Whitley Elementary in Grimesland, east of Greenville.

Elks said his department is working understaffed because many of his employees were displaced by the hurricane and have to see to the needs of their families.