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The Daily Tar Heel

Hurricane Irma lets North Carolina off easy

North Carolina didn't receive the brunt of Hurricane Irma, but it has felt several of its impacts over the past couple of days.

Flights were canceled, trees were knocked down and many people throughout the state were without power.

Tim Tripp,  director of storm response for the Carolinas at Duke Energy, said in a statement on Monday that "more than 4,500 storm responders, including power line workers, tree professionals, damage assessors and support personnel, were positioned across North and South Carolina ready to quickly respond to power outages."

Despite statewide preparation, Duke Energy reported thousands of power outages throughout the state — especially in Mecklenburg and Buncombe counties. 

Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement Tuesday that power outages peaked at 77,000 Tuesday morning and about 63,000 homes and business remained without power until 12 p.m., mostly in western counties.

“Power crews are at work on restoration and the situation is improving,” he said. 

Casey Dietrich, an assistant professor at N.C. State University, said Hurricane Irma’s effects were relatively minor in coastal North Carolina because its track was so far away.

“Along the southeast coast between Wilmington and Myrtle Beach, the wind speeds barely reached the cutoff for tropical-storm strength, 39 miles per hour, and only for a few hours,” he said.

Dietrich also works as a part of the Coastal Resilience Center, a group of universities, private companies and government agencies that are led by UNC. The CRC conducts research on the threats to coastal communities due to natural hazards and climate change. 

Cooper said in the statement that several school districts were closed on Tuesday and 25 more were operating on delays. 

The statement also said the Blue Ridge Parkway will remain closed and the N.C. Department of Transportation crews will continue working to clear roads in western counties from downed trees.

Cooper said in the statement North Carolina will continue to reach out to Florida, Georgia and other neighboring states to see how it can help with their recovery processes. 

“All things considered, most of North Carolina has been fortunate in the wake of Hurricane Irma,” he said. “Some of our neighbors to the south have not been as fortunate, and we stand ready to help.”


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