Nightly News   |  August 27, 2011

Damage appears to be ‘minimal’ in N.C.

North Carolina state officials say early indications are damage is minimal, but they still want people to stay inside. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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>>> nbc's kerry sanders further south, atlantic beach , north carolina , where they had a sporting night and violent day today, kerry, good evening.

>> good evening, hurricane irene arrived early and is lingering. in her wake there is destruction and also death. two deaths directly related to hurricane irene . one a man who was outside his house during the hurricane. a tree branch broke loose, fell down and crushed him and killed him. and another accident at an intersection, where the power was out and the police chief says if the power had not been out the traffic lights would have been working and nobody would have died in an accident that took place there.

>> reporter: hurricane irene made first landfall south of the outer banks on north carolina 's coast. winds in excess of 100 miles per hour ripped apart unsecured siding. tilted electrical poles and church steeples. downed trees. an unconfirmed tornado is believed to have touched down in belhaven, damaging waterfront businesses. while the storm surge flooded some roadways, waves, most 8 to 10 feet with the occasional 17-footer hammered the atlantic beach pier. this is what the pier looked like before irene . and now -- after. the final section is gone, washed out to sea in the early morning hours. north carolina state officials say early indications are damage is minimal. duncan reeves who rode the store out with his 80-year-old parents, is thankful irene , a category 3 hurricane , showed mercy when she made landfall here as barely a category 1 .

>> i just kind of battoned down the hatches.

>> reporter: irene came ashore in the early morning hours, the eye of the storm passing directly over atlantic beach . this is the back end of the hurricane coming through here. these are the hurricane-force winds. and it's brutal. i got to tell you. the sand is like a sandblaster. i can barely turn that direction. along the north carolina coast, more than 200 homes are still without power. for those who evacuated inland, emergency managers say, there will be at least one more night away from home before the all-clear signal.

>> it is just really danger, endanger your safety and the safety of the first responders who might come to try to rescue you. please stay inside.

>> reporter: and you can see that the wind is still blowing. the sand is still moving at quite a velocity here. but the mayor here in atlantic beach speaking for the communities along the coast saying that the damage could have been worse and hopeful, really quite confident that they'll be back in business for tourists by labor day weekend . brian?

>> kerry, you mention only good news there wind at your back, indicating the back end of the storm. by the north carolina definition, the damage they say there is minimal. it's nice to be able to talk about this in the rearview mirror . ron mott