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Gov. Visits PCC to Assess Hurricane Damage

WINTERVILLE—Gov. Beverly Perdue visited the Pitt Community College campus Sept. 1 to assess damage done to the state’s community colleges by Hurricane Irene.

Shortly after her arrival by helicopter, the governor toured campus by bus to see firsthand the rooftop damage and downed trees resulting from Irene’s fierce winds and heavy rains.

Tropical storm force winds pounded North Carolina’s eastern counties for hours before the hurricane finally made landfall near Cape Lookout around 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 27. The storm crept slowly along the coastline from there, remaining in the eastern part of the state until well after nightfall.

Though nearly every building on PCC’s main campus sustained some type of damage from the storm, hardest hit was Trailer 24 – home of the college’s compensatory education program. The trailer, which is adjacent to the Masonry and Welding Building, was a total loss after being struck by a falling pine tree during the hurricane.

Most of Gov. Perdue’s PCC visit was spent in the Clifton W. Everett Building, where she held a conference call to discuss hurricane damage with community college administrators from throughout eastern North Carolina. Joining the governor were N.C. Community Colleges President Scott Ralls, PCC President G. Dennis Massey and a number of state and local legislators, including State Rep. Marian McLawhorn from Grifton and State Sen. Louis Pate, who represents Pitt, Greene and Wayne counties in the N.C. General Assembly.

During the call, community college presidents detailed for the governor the damages their campuses incurred as a result of the hurricane and the resiliency shown by the people in their communities following the storm. Some colleges, including Lenoir and Pamlico, served as shelters for hurricane victims.

“Almost all the eastern North Carolina community college [presidents] expressed their thankfulness to Gov. Perdue and N.C. Community Colleges President Scott Ralls that the damage was no worse than it was, but we also know that we will discover additional results in the weeks to come,” Massey said.

“On a crowded campus such as Pitt, we will do our best to return to normal and make a positive of this experience.”

The day after Gov. Perdue’s PCC visit, four North Carolina counties, including Pitt, were declared federal disaster areas, bringing to 13 the number of counties eligible to receive federal assistance in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

North Carolina suffered more than $400 million in damage from the hurricane, including massive losses to agriculture and uninsured homes.