Hurricane Fran remains warning for inland N.C.

Posted July 29, 2010 7:00 p.m. EDT
Updated July 30, 2010 10:32 a.m. EDT

— Fourteen years ago, Hurricane Fran tore through the eastern half of North Carolina, proving that areas far inland can suffer from hurricanes as much as the coast.

The Category 3 storm roared ashore on the southern coast near Bald Head Island on Sept. 5, 1996, packing winds of 115 mph. Hurricane-force winds were felt as far inland as Goldsboro, Fayetteville and Raleigh.

For the first time in state history, a state of emergency was declared in all 100 counties.

Fran killed 24 people and caused an estimated $2.3 billion worth of damage in North Carolina.

Toppled trees were Fran's calling card, and for weeks after the storm, the sound of chainsaws filled North Carolina as people chopped up fallen trees to clear them homes, cars and driveways.

The storm cut power to more than 4 million people, and in many places, the outages lasted for more than a week.

If an equally strong storm were to hit along the same path today, more people would be affected.

In 1996, when Fran plowed through Wake County and left it without power, 550,500 people called the county home. Today, more than 897,000 people do, living in neighborhoods that didn't exist when Fran roared through.

There will never be another hurricane named Fran again. The National Weather Service retired the name because of the damage it caused.