Baby Boom: North Carolina Hospital Sees High Birth Rate During Hurricane Irene

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As Irene stormed in, so did the newborns at one hospital along the hurricane’s path.

What is it about Irene that brought 60% more babies into the world at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center? Chalk it up to folklore – or possibly just stress on the mothers-to-be – but the Wilmington, N.C. hospital saw 17 births during an 18-hour period Friday and Saturday, while they were on lockdown from the storm. The newborns kept the staff busy, as the hospital sees just 10 babies born on the average day.

(PHOTOS: Irene’s Path of Destruction)

Indeed, Friday and Saturday were extraordinary as the hospital worried about how to stay in power and functional as the winds and rain battered the North Carolina coast. But fortunately, Irene’s might caused no issues for the hospital, aside from the unusually high number of newborns. Rest came quickly for the staff, though, as the birth rate slowed the day after the hurricane passed through. “It’s very quiet here today,” spokeswoman Carolyn Fisher said Sunday.

One thing’s for certain: none of the mothers wished to name their child “Irene.”

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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