What hurricane? 1,200 freshmen party at the Nasher. Historic oak uprooted on East Campus. 1st report has Beaufort Marine Lab OK

✔✔✔ Despite anxious calls from parents, 1,200 freshmen ventured to the Nasher Museum Saturday night for their first giant party. There was a light drizzle at the time, a fringe of Hurricane Irene.

Duke and Durham escaped the fury of the storm, which tore into the Outer Banks and left millions of people along the Eastern Seaboard without power. At Duke, there was an outage in one area of student housing; and some employees living close to campus were out for a while too. The Duke and Durham power is largely, if not totally, restored.

A large oak tree that has stood watch outside the West Duke Building for generations of students was toppled by the hurricane. This around 2:30 PM Saturday.

According to Duke VP Kyle Cavanaugh, the university's emergency coordinator, the tree came to rest leaning against the building; there were a few students inside at the time, but no injuries. Duke Police evacuated the building as a precaution

Around campus, several other trees suffered severed limbs.

We do not have the rainfall total from Duke and Durham yet, or more importantly from the watershed area. There is a minor drought, and there was not that much rain at all.

Air travel is a mess. The State Highway Patrol reports hundreds of roads, and 21 bridges, closed east of Interstate 95, which is about 20 miles east of Raleigh.

✔✔✔ Duke Marine Lab officials are trying to get to their research and teaching facility today. Initial reports indicate lots of water, but no serious damage.

The lab is in Beaufort, which was hard hit. The sea surge was estimated at seven feet, and the town lists itself as being 12 feet above sea level. As of 5 PM Saturday evening, weather observers reporting to the US Weather Bureau said there had been 16 -- 16, correct -- inches of rain so far. The Mayor has declared an emergency, and a dusk to dawn curfew remains in effect.

The Outer Banks in general were very hard hit. "Epic flooding" is one description. Many towns are closed for future evaluation.

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