Gov. Bev. Perdue urged Eastern North Carolina residents to "stay inside" Saturday evening, cautioning that Irene would continue to blow hurricane winds into the night and tropical force winds well into the early morning.
The hurricane caused power outages for more than 500,000 people and did widespread damage to property and infrastructure. More than 5,500 people stayed in 60 shelters. Here's a look at some damage:
"It's been difficult to assess the full damage," said Jim Chrisman, interim county manager. "We haven't been able to get crews out because of sustained winds."
There were reports of a tornado ripping through Belhaven, wind damage in Aurora, and wind gusts that reached 90 mph.
The pier at the Sheraton in Atlantic Beach received major damage.
Seven swift boat rescue teams ferried people to higher ground throughout the day from Neuse and Trent river tributaries. By late afternoon, they had rescued 100, according to emergency workers. High waters and winds were making it difficult for rescuers to get to some in the eastern part of the county.
New Bern, the colonial and state capital from 1746 until the establishment of Raleigh in 1792, also suffered wind damage and flooding. Eighty percent of the county was without power, and most of the roads were impassable by late afternoon.
Shingles, siding and trees down. Ocean overwash flooded N.C. 12, near Rodanthe. By 7:15, soundside flooding had started, with reports of 4 feet of water in Avon.
About 300 people remained on Ocracoke Island, where damage and flooding were minor. Parts of Englehard saw minor flooding.
New Hanover County
Roughly 60,000 residents were without power, but damage was minor. Two shelters were merged to form one.
"I feel pretty blessed that we got no more than we did," said Warren Lee, emergency management director. "It certainly had the potential to do some real damage."
High winds prevented crews from getting a good assessment, but many power lines were down, and trees were reported on some houses and cars.
Emergency workers were scrambling to reach potentially dozens of families stranded by high water. Eight people were rescued from a mobile home outside Bayboro. The National Guard was working in high-water vehicles and seeking aid from swift-boat teams in Wayne County.
More than a foot of rain fell. High winds downed trees, but no injuries were reported.
A tornado touched down east of Columbia, destroying several homes. Two or three people were evacuated with minor injuries. Winds were too high for emergency workers to get a good assessment. The Scuppernong River rose over its banks and divided the town of Columbia.
A 15-year-old girl was killed when her father's car collided with another at an intersection where the traffic signals were out. The roof collapsed in the center of an unoccupied mall, and the roof was also coming off at the local 911 center.
Compiled by staff writers Anne Blythe, Josh Shaffer and David Ranii