Hurricane Irene 2011

This information is for archival purposes only. The information is written in the present tense because it is an aggregate of the messages put out by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety at the time of the disaster.

Hurricane Irene

by the Numbers (as of August 24, 2012)

Storm Overview

North Carolina residents and emergency managers began preparing for Hurricane Irene August 24 as the Category 3 storm approached the state with 115 mph sustained winds. Effects from the hurricane could be felt in New Hanover County by the evening of August 26. By the time Hurricane Irene made landfall at 9 a.m Saturday, Aug. 27 near Cape Lookout the winds had diminished and was downgraded to a Category 1 storm.  The hurricane caused storm surge of 2 to 4 feet along parts of the Outer Banks and up to 15 feet along parts of the Pamlico Sound.

Damage Overview

  • 7 - people killed by the hurricane (2-Pitt, 1 each in Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Sampson and Wayne counties)
  • 86 shelters open in 41 counties housing more than 10,000 people
  • More than 660,000 power outages (at peak)
  • More than 270 roads and 21 bridges closed due to flooding, debris and damage (at peak).
  • $686 million - estimated damages from Irene (includes agricultural losses, and state/federal funds to help individuals, families, businesses and communities recover from the storm and rebuild)

Recovery Assistance

  • 38 – counties approved for federal disaster assistance for individuals and business owners
  • 37 – counties approved for federal disaster assistance for local governments and certain non-profits
  • 31– Disaster Recovery Centers were open in various communities between Aug.31 and Nov.4 to provide one-on-one assistance for survivors
  • 35,034 - people registered with FEMA for state & federal assistance
  • 17,666- residents visited Disaster Recovery Centers which were operated jointly by FEMA and NCEM with support from SBA
  • 27,800- damaged homes inspected and paperwork sent to FEMA
  • $35 million+ approved in federal disaster assistance grants for homeowners and renters in 38 counties
  • $47 million in SBA loans to homeowners and business owners
  • 17,500+ - Number of households or businesses that received state/federal financial assistance to recover
  • 1,671 - families helped through NCEM/FEMA Community Outreach efforts
  • 284 - families housed in nearby hotels or apartments for several weeks while their homes were repaired
  • 196 - number of temporary housing units provided by FEMA as temporary shelter for 194 families in remote areas as they rebuilt their homes.
  • $1.9 million provided in Disaster Unemployment Insurance to 838 people
  • $110 million - Amount of Public Assistance funds obligated
  • 1,814 - number of Public Assistance projects for which funds have been obligated. 323 different agencies applied for funding assistance.
  • $63 million - amount of reimbursement to counties for debris removal and emergency protective measures
  • $47 million - amount of reimbursement to counties for permanent work
  • 16 - number of properties acquired as part of Hazard Mitigation program
  • 900 - number of properties analyzed for potential hazard mitigation funding.

Preparation Overview

  • Gov. Perdue declared a State of Emergency on August 24
  • 40 counties declared local states of emergency
  • 43 counties and the state activated their Emergency Operations Centers
  • Gov. Perdue requested a pre-landfall federal Emergency Declaration August 24.
  • President Obama approved a federal emergency declaration for 16 counties on August 25; 18 more counties were added on August 28. The counties are: Beaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Halifax, Hyde, Gates, Greene, Hertford, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, New Hanover, Nash, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender. The declaration enables local governments to seek federal financial assistance to help cover the costs of emergency protective measures.

Disaster Declarations

  • Aug. 29 - Gov. Perdue requested a federal disaster declaration for individual assistance for 7 counties (Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Dare, Hyde, Pamlico and Tyrrell)
  • Aug. 31 - President Obama approved the IA disaster declaration for the 7 counties to provide individuals with low-interest loans and other assistance to help hurricane survivors recover. Gov. Perdue requests Halifax and Lenoir be added to the IA declaration.
  • Sept.1- Halifax and Lenoir counties receive declaration for individual assistance. Gov. requests Currituck, Pitt, Onslow and Washington counties be added to IA declaration. President Obama approves the public assistance disaster declaration for 20 counties (Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Halifax, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Tyrrell and Wilson) to help local governments recoup costs for storm response, debris removal and infrastructure damage.
  • Sept. 2 - Currituck, Pitt, Onslow and Washington counties are added to IA declaration.
  • Sept. 3 - Greene, Jones, Nash, Warren and Wilson counties added to IA declaration. Bertie, Camden, Currituck, Green, New Hanover, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pitt and Wayne approved for PA(29 total).
  • Sept. 4 -  Bertie, Brunswick, Camden, Chowan, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Hertford, Johnston, Martin, New Hanover, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans and Vance added to IA declaration (33 counties total).
  • Sept. 10 - Pender and Wayne added to IA declaration (35 total); Gates, Hertford, Johnston, Northampton, Sampson, Warren and Washington added to PA (36 total)
  • Sept. 13 - Vance County added to PA declaration (37 total)
  • Oct.7 - Bladen, Columbus and Sampson added to IA declaration (38 total)

Numbers for Help

  • (800) 621-FEMA / TTY (800) 462-7585 – FEMA Disaster Assistance Hotline or
  • 888-835-9966 – Governor's Hotline for donations, volunteers and recovery questions


For more information on how to prepare for hurricanes, please see the links on our Hurricanes page and please visit for additional information.

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1-888-835-9966 -- Governor Perdue's toll-free bilingual hotline for questions on Hurricane Irene

For the deaf and hard of hearing:
711 (Relay N.C.)

The Governor's Hotline is now closed

Please visit these websites for more recovery information:

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Photos of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge Before and After Hurricane Irene

Aerial photos of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, NC, from May 6, 2008 (top, pre-storm) and August 30, 2011 (lower, post-storm). The yellow arrow in each image of the lower images points to the same structure. At this location, two breaches were carved through the island, severing NC Highway 12. With the storm surge higher on the island's sound-side, currents flowing from sound to ocean may have contributed to creating these breaches.
Credit: U.S. Geological Survey