Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Ian leaves four dead in North Carolina, cleanup underway

Some debris was left behind and trees were down in the aftermath of Ian Friday. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Hurricane Ian has left North Carolina and its wake four are dead.

Three of the deaths occurred on Friday in vehicle-related incidents: a 25-year-old man died after his vehicle hydroplaned into another vehicle in Raleigh.

A 24-year-old woman died after her vehicle veered off a wet road in Clayton and ran into a tree.

In Martin County, a 22-year-old man drowned when his truck was submerged in a flooded swamp.

The only storm-related death on Saturday came when a 65-year-old man in Johnston County died following carbon monoxide poisoning after leaving a generator running in his closed garage while his power was out. His wife was hospitalized.

As Ian’s winds and rains exited North Carolina by Saturday, cleanup and power restoration is underway. Gov. Roy Cooper cautions residents to be safe.

“The storm has passed, but many hazards remain with downed trees, downed power lines and power outages,” Cooper said. “We mourn with the families of those who have died and urge everyone to be cautious while cleaning up to avoid more deaths or injuries.” 

In southeastern North Carolina, Ian mostly affected Brunswick County beach towns, specifically at the South Carolina and North Carolina border. Sunset Beach closed its bridge Friday through Saturday, due to flooding in the causeway and strong winds. It’s now open; however, many of the town’s public accesses remain closed due to damage from storm surge. (1st Street, 3rd Street, 8th Street, 9th Street, 13th Street, 1414/1502 and the steps on the 40th Street walkway). The Sunset Beach Town Park is also closed until debris is cleared.

To the north in Ocean Isle, Town Center Park is closed to the public and will re-open as soon as possible. Frontal dunes in the area have experienced erosion, and on the west end there is high erosion and severe walkway destruction.

A preliminary property damage assessment has been completed, with problems found in loose roof shingles, as well as fence, pool, deck and railing destruction, especially on canal streets due to flooding.

Property owners in Ocean Isle, Sunset and Holden beaches are in charge of their own debris removal; Brunswick County landfill and convenience centers are open to accommodate.

The Town of Holden Beach reminds property owners to follow proper permitting ahead of correcting any structural damage due to Ian — houses, walkways, piers and docks included. Anyone with flood damage should call the department for building inspections for guidance and learn about town ordinances.

The state requested emergency assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, granted Saturday by U.S. President Joe Biden. The move will give both state and local governments reimbursements for damage caused by Ian.

According to the state, it is assessing how much destruction was storm-related and if North Carolina will qualify for more federal assistance.

FEMA sent disaster teams to work in areas hit hardest by the storm last week. As of Monday, only individuals from Florida could apply for disaster assistance directly through the agency.

North Carolinians are being directed to the N.C. Department of Public Safety for the time being. Individuals can apply for disaster relief through the department here.

The Cape Fear region saw high winds and rain most of Friday, resulting in some downed trees and flooding throughout coastal areas. The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down for a few minutes in the Holden Beach area around 12:30 p.m. Friday, though no injuries were reported.

Thousands of utility crews were working on power restoration Saturday afternoon across the state for roughly 210,000 customers — though outages peaked the day before at 418,000. By Monday, only six buildings in the Cape Fear region were without power.

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