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Former Mayo Clinic employee describes storm scene in N.C.

Two men use a boat to explore a street flooded by Hurricane Irene Saturday in Manteo, N.C.

DURHAM, N.C. — A North Carolina resident who lived in Rochester during her college days says that Hurricane Irene has affected the city of Durham even though it's about a two-hour drive from coastal cities.

Deborah Booth Summers worked at Mayo Clinic and Home Federal Savings Bank in Rochester while commuting to grad school at the University of Minnesota.

So far it's just "really, really windy," with a lot of rain Friday night and this morning, she said. Her area is under a flash flood warning.

"Every now and then you'll hear a gust of wind and see a branch fly across the street," she said. There have been a couple of weather-related auto accidents in Durham.

"We actually drove out this morning, and the wind was pushing the car all over the place and we saw one of the power lines — they're all above ground here; one of the power lines spark, and the traffic lights were swinging so much that you couldn't actually see them, and then a branch hit a power line and sparked and the lights went out," Booth Summers said.


Her relatives in Virginia Beach, Va., are "getting hit pretty hard," she said. She is worried about them, though they've reported they're safe so far.

Many in North Carolina are without power, including in Durham.

"Nobody's roofs are being ripped off or anything. That's more out towards the coast," she said.

This is the second hurricane that Booth Summers has witnessed. In 2003, she was living in Richmond, Va., when Hurricane Isabelle struck. It knocked down more than 100 trees on the college campus there, and power outages lasted for weeks.

Her mother experienced the earthquake in New England this past week. Booth Summers was talking on the phone with her when it hit.

"She said, 'Oh my God, the building is shaking! The building is shaking! My refrigerator' — she has one of those little refrigerators — 'It almost fell off of my desk! I have to call you back!'" Booth Summers said. "And she hung up the phone, and I'm thinking what on earth is going on. And I turned the radio on. She called me back and she said, 'We had an earthquake.'"

Booth Summers said that a cousin of hers in Virginia was knocked off her feet by the earthquake. "Their pictures were knocked off the walls and all their lamps and vases and china were knocked down," she said.

She's hopeful Durham has seen the worst of Irene, and the rain is expected to stop around 7 p.m. Eastern Time. But she's "more worried about my friends in Virginia Beach, in Maryland, New Jersey and New York because it's really going to hit hard there."

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