I spent almost all of Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Rocky Mount as Hurricane Irene blew through eastern North Carolina. Unlike some members of the response team, I was able to spend the night in my own bed each night, although the days were long. Observing damage and emergency response in both Rocky Mount and Wilson gave me an opportunity to compare the two.
Rocky Mount seems to have suffered more damage than Wilson did from the hurricane's high winds. Both cities had trees down in the road and a widespread power losses. Rocky Mount reported more than 15,000 customers without power at one point Saturday. Late Sunday, large areas of that city were without power, and many intersections had no working traffic lights, which made travel a little more scary. At my home in Wilson, we lost power for less than two hours on Saturday, and our Greenlight service also stayed on. The highest power outage total I saw in Wilson was less than 4,000, and all of the stoplights I encountered on my commute were working (admittedly, this is a small sample).
Wilson utility crews did a phenomenal job following the April 16 tornado getting electricity restored in only four days to areas that were obliterated by that storm, and it looks like they've done a good job again. Somewhere in my neighborhood, I've heard a generator humming, but it appears that only a few people have had to resort to gasoline for electric power.