ATLANTA, Ga. -- Just seven days after Hurricane Dennis flirted with North Carolina's Outer Banks, sparing the state the brutal winds of a landfall but pausing long enough to shove brackish floodwaters into seaside county creeks and rivers, the greatest storm in the state's recorded history came to stay.
The storm was Hurricane Floyd and the night of Wednesday, Sept. 16, 1999, is now indelibly etched on the memories of many Southeastern U. S. residents.
Ten governors along the Atlantic seaboard asked President Clinton to declare their states major disaster areas, thus opening the way to billions of dollars in federal and state disaster assistance.
Storm damage, especially flood losses in the entire eastern half of North Carolina, cost nearly $6 billion in that state alone.
Together Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina experienced the largest evacuation effort in American history.
Traffic engineers estimated 3 million people took to the highways in what was to become a frustrating effort. They sought only to flee the hurricane's landfall. Instead, they created the largest, longest, and most incredibly snarled traffic jam ever known.
Floyd's damage in Florida and Georgia was minimal, based on hurricane loss standards, but substantive losses began to build when the hurricane penetrated the upper coast of South Carolina before slamming headlong into neighboring North Carolina.
The storm's legacy in that state is legendary. Nothing like it had ever been witnessed there before. More than 88,500 North Carolinians ultimately registered for emergency help, while 16, 357 South Carolinians were doing the same.
In all, federal-state assistance figures to date reflect an expenditure of more than $1.9 billion in North Carolina for disaster response and recovery purposes.
In South Carolina, disaster losses soared, even though only two counties were hit. Their damage, however, was evidence of Floyd's immensity and intensity, with disaster aid reaching more than $60.7 million.
Here's a breakdown of federal dollars invested in response and recovery programs by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):
Public Works - that is, emergency overtime pay for necessary local workers such as fire, police and medical personnel, and repairing or rebuilding damaged roadways, bridges, government buildings, and the like: $133.1 million for North Carolina, $28.3 million for Florida; $21 million for South Carolina.
- TOTAL: $182.4 million
Temporary Housing - minimal repairs and rental assistance for individuals and families whose homes were made temporarily unlivable by the storm: $88.7 million for North Carolina; $10.2 for South Carolina. Florida and Georgia escaped the storm's landfall and no temporary housing was required.
- TOTAL: $99,007,974
Individual and family grants - one-time grants that went to storm victims to replace personal property losses, meet emergency transportation needs, medical requirements and other such needs: $90.5 million to North Carolina; $6.2 million to South Carolina.
- TOTAL: $96,734,646
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest loans - loans made to rehabilitate damaged property, including homes and businesses, and to replace personal property lost to the storm: $503.5 million in North Carolina; $23.3 million in South Carolina; $4.3 million in Florida.
- TOTAL: $531,198,900
Applicants seeking disaster assistance (limited to North ...