CRAVEN COUNTY: 20-25 Homes Destroyed In Harlowe

Officials estimate that swells from the Neuse River have destroyed 20 to 25 houses in a Craven County neighborhood.

Harlowe Volunteer Fire Chief Jeremy Brown says 10-foot swells from the Neuse River broke on top of houses as Hurricane Irene stayed over North Carolina for hours. Brown says the number may increase since reports of destruction were stilling coming in Sunday. Some of the destroyed homes had been rebuilt after Isabel in 2003.

The fire department rescued people from three or four houses Saturday, getting help from the National Guard and swift water rescue teams from Hendersonville.

He says most people evacuated before the storm, but others stayed because they didn't think they were in danger.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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Hurricane Irene is sending a surge of water through the eastern North Carolina sounds, flooding homes.

Some of the worst flooding happened in New Bern, where the storm pushed water from the Pamlico Sound up the Neuse River and into the city of about 30,000 people.

Several feet of water surged into the city Saturday morning as the eye of Irene passed about 40 miles to the east. Authorities say 60 percent of New Bern is without power.

Craven County Emergency Management Director Stanley Kite says two dozen rescue teams were fighting wind gusts up to 50 mph to check on people possibility trapped by the flooding. He says no injuries have been reported so far.

Sound flooding was also reported in Beaufort, Carteret, and Hyde counties.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

New Bern Mayor Lee Bettis, Jr. has declared a state of emergency in New Bern due to Hurricane Irene.

Public Information Officer Colleen Roberts told Dave Jordan and Lynnette Taylor that residents of Weatherstone Road off Elizabeth Ave. have been evacuated by a bus. Water started entering that complex in the low-lying area. A bus took several residents to the shelter at Ben D. Quinn Elementary.

Roberts also said people in the Woodrow neighborhood, including Oaks and National Rd., have been rescued from homes where water was beginning to come inside. Roberts said one of the families rescued including a mother with two small children.

The New Bern Fire Department and all city crews have ceased operations, because winds have exceeded 45 miles per hour. Staff is going out for emergency water rescues, like the ones at Weatherstone and in the Woodrow area.

There is still room at shelters in New Bern and Craven County. Roberts says about 100 people were at the shelter at Havelock High School earlier this morning, along with 60 people at Ben Quinn Elementary in New Bern.

Colleen Roberts also said part of the roof of the Sea Glass Cafe blew off in the storm. Ceiling fans from the patio were flying into Martin Luther King Blvd. Incidents like that, Roberts said, led to the decision to enact the state of emergency and a curfew.

The curfew means people in New Bern must stay inside. The city says no one is authorized to travel on any public street or roadway unless they are in search of medical or emergency assistance, food or other necessary commodity.

Roberts says barricades are blocking several streets in New Bern, including Front St. and roads around Tryon Palace. Union Point Park is completely overwashed by water from the Neuse River. She added "There's lots of overwash on the Neuse, it looks like the ocean."

The emergency declaration also says no one in the city may take firearms off their property, along with buying, selling, give away, transfer or dispose of firearms, explosives, ammunition or dangerous weapons of any kind.

Likewise, selling of beer, wine, or other intoxicating beverages of any kind are prohibited.

Excepted from this curfew are police personnel, fire personnel, emergency responders, doctors, nurses and other essential public order and public safety personnel.

The City of New Bern is responding to several water rescues, and about 90% of City of New Bern customers are currently without power.

Call 636-4070 for non-emergency rescues and to report power outages and damages in New Bern.

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