Track of Hurricane Fran.

Economic Impact

Fran tore this house in coastal NC in half.

Dave Gatley, FEMA News Photo.

Fran's storm surge washed this sailboat into the treetops.

NC Division of Marine Fisheries.

Though Fran’s economic damage was widespread, Topsail Island was hit the hardest. Communities on the island were still recovering from Hurricane Bertha, which hit only two months earlier in July. Onslow County public works director Dave Clark told the Wilmington Star-News that compared to Fran, Bertha was just a little breeze. Fran "was a real storm." More than 300 homes on the island were damaged so badly that the cost of repairs exceeded half the home’s value. In North Topsail Beach, more than 90% of the buildings were destroyed or damaged beyond repair.

The Wilmington area was hit hard, too. Nearly 200 coastal businesses from Kure Beach to Wrightsville Beach were damaged. Carolina Beach alone suffered $45 million in private property damage. In the city of Wilmington itself, a quarter of all homes were damaged, and the 197-foot steeple of the historic First Baptist Church came crashing down in the middle of Market Street. Fran’s storm surge also pounded local marinas, washing boats into the nearby forests and costing boat owners $69 million.

Fran’s economic damages continued inland as heavy rains began to flood the Raleigh area. There was a foot of water inside the Crabtree Valley Mall, and employees found snakes swimming among the floating merchandise. Dams around the region breached or failed, sending more flood water into populated areas. Silver Lake Waterpark, Bass Lake, Lake Raleigh, and Yates Millpond were all drained of water as their dams failed.

In total, Fran caused $7.2 billion in damages to North Carolina. To help ease that burden, President Clinton sent the state $963 million in federal aid. The government also agreed to help fund up to 90% of North Carolina’s repairs to highways, bridges, and other public works.

Economic Losses
United States $8.1 billion
North Carolina $7.2 billion
NC Private Property $3.2 billion
NC Public Property $1.5 billion
NC Forests / Timber $1.8 billion
NC Agriculture $963 million
Agriculture Losses
Poultry 1 million animals
Hogs 16,000 animals
Cattle 400 animals
Tobacco $255 million
Cotton $76 million
Corn $74 million

All dollar amounts have been adjusted for inflation as of 2009.