Hard Hit North Carolina Assesses Irene's Wallop

North Carolina's Outer Banks took some of the hardest pounding from Hurricane Irene. While the cleanup has begun, damage is still being assessed.

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STEVE INSEEP, host:

Now all through this morning, we're following up on the damage caused by Hurricane Irene. Some people, in some areas, feel they got off easy, but more than 20 people were killed up and down the East Coast. And there was dramatic damage when the storm surge reached coastal North Carolina. NPR's Greg Allen reports from Manteo, North Carolina.

GREG ALLEN: Collington is a small community on the sound side of North Carolina's Outer Banks. Yesterday, Chris Merritt, a fisherman, had just hauled his boat backfrom a neighbors yard.

Mr. CHRIS MERRITT (Fisherman): This boat here was sitting right here and this morning it was down there, laid up against that house. The trailer and the boat, the whole mess turned sideways and just flattened their wooden addition on their house.

ALLEN: Merritts boat appears to be all right. The same cant be said of his home.

Mr. MERRITT: Everything I owns ruined. You can walk in here, come on. Trying to salvage my pictures.

ALLEN: You have all your pictures out trying to dry out?

Mr. MERRITT: Yeah, trying to dry out. See how the walls are buckling, on the walls where it's gotten wet?

ALLEN: Yeah, you can see the waterline there.

Mr. MERRITT: Yeah.

ALLEN: For nearly 36 hours, Irene pounded Collington and other communities along North Carolina's coast. In this area, wind did little damage. But as the hurricane moved north, the storm surge rushed into the sounds and inlets. Several feet of water flooded Collington, Manteo, Wanchese and many other outer banks communities.

At Billys Seafood in Collington, owner Tommy Beasley is working with a group of friends to sweep out all the mud and water the storm surge carried in.

Mr. TOMMY BEASLEY: Forty years of work and 40 inches of water. Were done. All the new equipment, everything we bought all this year is all ruined, all under water.

ALLEN: Beasley says he doesnt have insurance. His policy was canceled a decade ago and hes never found another underwriter. Hes hoping for assistance from the federal government and the state, but is worried theyll focus on affluent beach communities, not on trailer homes and seafood stands on the sound.

Mr. BEASLEY: The ocean side is made for the tourists. The real people live on the backside.

ALLEN: North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue toured the area yesterday and said she would not forget about the people on the sound side. The states already received a federal disaster declaration and the governor says shell soon be submitting a request for federal aid to help rebuild the states battered communities.

Greg Allen, NPR News, Manteo, North Carolina.

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