Rocky Mount remains in the dark four days after Irene

Posted August 31, 2011 5:41 p.m. EDT
Updated August 31, 2011 6:47 p.m. EDT

— Downed power lines and tree limbs still litter the streets of Rocky Mount, where more than 4,700 households were without power Wednesday.

Many homeowners in the city's historic district have generators, but Eleanor Larsen is not one of them. She said, if Hurricane Irene was only a Category 1 storm, she's grateful for what could have been much worse.

"I'm very much in the dark," she said. "But I'm thankful we didn't have a Category 2 or 3 storm – very, very thankful."

Larsen said winds damaged her prized 55-year-old camellia bushes and that she had to throw away five garbage bags full of spoiled food on Tuesday.

"Taking those (garbage bags) with all the stuff that had thawed in the refrigerator and freezer was very hard yesterday," she said. "I hate seeing waste, but there was no way to save it."

Nearby, Rick Horton has power and had no damage to his house. He said he feels something like survivor's guilt when he sees the upheaval around him – uprooted trees, homes showered with power lines, piles of limbs that get higher and higher with each passing day.

"It makes you wonder when they're going to get their power back on," he said. "We got power pretty quickly."

Rocky Mount Public Utilities has stopped giving out estimates of when power will be restored, city officials said, but are working hard to resolve the problem as soon as possible.

Power crews from the western parts of North Carolina were called in to help, the utility said.

Progress Energy, one of the state's largest utilities, had about 15,000 customers without power Wednesday, down from 280,000 at the height of the hurricane. Craven, Pamlico, Beaufort and Lenoir counties had the largest numbers of remaining outages as of 5 p.m.

About 34,000 N.C. Electric Cooperatives customers were also in the dark Wednesday.

Edgecombe County and Nash-Rocky Mount schools will remain closed on Thursday.