Hatteras Island braces for onrush of sound water

By on August 24, 2011

Here we go again?
The official hurricane flags were flying at Nags Head’s fire stations, along with the message “Go away Irene” on the outside chalkboard that usually shows water temperature, wave height and other information for beach-goers.
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Hurricane Irene was almost due west of Cape Hatteras at 10 a.m. today, and high winds pushing water west had exposed the bottom of the Pamlico Sound.

Island Free Press Editor Irene Nolan said there were reports of breached dunes, water on N.C. 12 near Frisco and downed trees. But so far, the storm did not seem as severe as originally forecast.

“I will say it’s ugly,” Nolan said from her home in Brigands Bay near Buxton.

A bigger concern is when the storm passes, the wind shifts to the west and the Pamlico sound rushes back to the west side of the island.

Islanders prepared by parking vehicles and cars on familiar high spots in parking lots and roads.

“Every little hill along the road, you see cars parked on,” Nolan said.

The storm crossed the North Carolina coast this morning near Cape Lookout with 90 mph top winds and has been buffeting the Outer Banks with wind and rain since last night.

Dare County officials are urging sightseers to stay inside. Duck and Kill Devil Hills have imposed curfews to keep people off the streets.

Northeastern North Carolina is under a hurricane warning. Residents and visitors were told to evacuate Dare, Currituck and Hyde counties.

But many residents elected to stay as the storm began to look a little more ragged than it did earlier, the track had shifted slightly west and the winds appeared to be holding steady at 90 mph or less.

At one time, Irene was forecast to make a direct hit on the Outer Banks as a Category 3 major hurricane.

Still, heavy rain and storm surge will be a problem. Tornadoes are also possible.

Loading up at The Home Depot. (Russ Lay)

On Saturday morning, hurricane force winds of 74 mph or more extended 90 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds of more than 39 mph were measured 260 miles from the eye.

The storm is moving north-northeast.

Sarah Alford of Moyock and her 5-year old daugther Emmie, who was to start kindergarten yesterday, instead spent Thursday night driving to Rocky Mount before heading to a hotel in uptown Charlotte for the duration of Irene.

Alford’s husband, Tom, is staying at their home off Tulls Creek Road.

“We decided to play it safe . . . when the western core of the storm was forecast to pass over northern Currituck, we decided it was time to go,” Alford said.

“Emmie is most important thing at our house and don’t want to take any chances with her.”

7-Eleven is usually the last to close. (Pat Morris)

Along the beach, businesses were boarding up Friday. Hardware stores were open and doing a brisk business. Banks, some drug stores and all grocery stores except the Food-O-Rama in Manteo were closed, so people stocking up on last minute items had to settle for convenience or drug stores, which remained open.

New battery supplies were expected at The Home Depot Friday. D batteries are the rarest, and bottled water was disappearing from stores still open.

Rainfall east of U.S. 17 is expected to total 8 to 12 inches and possibly more in some areas, according to the forecast. Tropical storm force winds should arrive Friday evening.

Winds greater than 80 mph are likely east of U.S. 17 Saturday afternoon, the forecast said. Storm surge of 6 to 11 feet is also expected.

Plywood was moving at The Home Dept. (Russ Lay)

Schools are closed.

See a NASA video as Irene evolves »

North Carolina transportation officials say they are prepared for any damage to N.C. 12 on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands as well as the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet.

DOT spokeswoman Nicole Meister said Wednesday that workers were positioning heavy equipment on Hatteras Island to keep the road open as long as it is safe for crews to work. Immediately after the storm, workers will inspect the aging Bonner Bridge. Meister says the bridge will not be opened unless engineers are sure it is safe.

Sentiments on the windows of Carolina Seafood Buffet. (Russ Lay)

Ferries will be standing by to handle vehicle traffic if the road remains closed following the hurricane, using the emergency route over Pamlico Sound between Rodanthe and Stumpy Point.

The Chesapeake Expressway lifted northbound tolls to support the evacuation.

Traffic at MP 3, where U.S. 158 was one lane to make room for evacuees from N.C. 12. (Russ Lay)

The Coast Guard is conducting warning flights over the coastal waters ahead of Hurricane Irene, telling mariners by radio to seek safe harbor. An HC-130 aircraft from Station Elizabeth City is making the flights, broadcasting an emergency message on several marine VHF frequencies.

Makeup days for Dare County schools will be Sept.10, and Wednesday, Nov. 23. Both will be half days. All after-school activities are cancelled Thursday and Friday, including the After-School Enrichment Program.

Irene, which started as a tropical wave off the coast of Africa, is the ninth named storm of the season and the first Atlantic hurricane of 2011.

Cameras on the International Space station capture Hurricane Irene. (Nasa video)

Sam Walker and Russ Lay contributed to this report



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Terry C. Fuller

August 29, 2011 3:21 pm

Help:I have a house in Avon NC on 40259 Dolphin Lane,and have a sign at the top of the front that says ” Sandy Paws”,I wanted to find out how that street did durning the storm. Thank you for any help Terry C. Fuller

John VanderMyde

August 27, 2011 9:01 am

I completely agree with AD – there is a big difference between Outer Bankers and those who live in cities like New Orleans. We are much better situated to handle storms.

Inland areas have the real risk from flood waters that have no where to go – yet the OBX gets all the hype.

Once the storms are over, every effort should be made to let property owners return – otherwise, they will never leave.


August 27, 2011 8:39 am

The more things get sensationalized by the media, the greater the chance of people ignoring warnings and evacuation notices in the future. Thats when when the real catastrophe will happen. It’s one thing making people aware of the danger, it’s another thing when you hype it up to get ratings.


August 27, 2011 8:25 am

How BIG of our neighbors in Chesapeake to waive the tolls on their golden expressway! Aren’t they SWEET?!

Russ Lay

August 26, 2011 10:32 pm

Let’s keep one thing in perspective. Caution, stay, leave–they can all be the right decision, but those of us who stay are the only one’s who might be told “I told you so”..perhaps at our memorial service. It’s a personal choice, but there is zero shame in leaving or exercising caution.


August 26, 2011 8:35 pm

The one and only reason myself and friends and neighbors are staying is because of restricted entry after the storm passes. Timely return entry is important to access and minimize damage to our property.
Good Luck to All!

Allan 2

August 26, 2011 7:47 pm

Gee. I urge caution and wish you good luck and this is your response! Your right. Go to Billy’s get a couple cases of Bud lite and have yourself a real drunken ball.

Anthony BAROCO

August 26, 2011 4:24 pm

I live on a barrier island and got creamed by Ivan.
I wish NC all the best

Ty Webb

August 26, 2011 2:31 pm

I agree AD. And Allan2, thanks for the “I told you so” ahead of time. I don’t mean to sound insensitive to the victims of Katrina, but, they were woefully unprepared. I think, or I would hope that those that are staying are as prepared as they can be. We don’t expect the gov’t to provide us with supplies we should have already gotten ourselves.
Oh, and I don’t live in a soup bowl surrounded by decaying levees either. But hey, you’re the meteorologist with a crystal ball, so what do we know. And please stop with the worst storm in 40 years spiel.


August 26, 2011 2:14 pm

Pat, good for you for taking your cat with you—-that’s one of the primary reasons my wife and I are staying—we have 7, and, we’d never abandon them.


August 26, 2011 12:54 pm

What sucks is no one trusts The Weather Channel because they’re wrong almost every time. They keep predicting a storm increase to increase ratings, and it still weakens every report….

And no one wants to get stuck on the other side of the bridge for 3 days while our local govt. has its thumb up somewhere about letting people back to their own property. Last time, Isabel, was a joke. Keeping us off was wrong.

No one I know who lives here, not a single person, is evacuating. We don’t trust the alarmist weather guessers and we sure feel like we should be able to return to our own houses. Only we think they won’t let us. So we stay.

Best of luck to everyone.


August 26, 2011 12:46 pm

Where has all the toilet paper gone from store shelves???

Pat Walden

August 26, 2011 12:24 pm

I left the beach at 4a.m. this morning with my 19 year old kitty. It is always a stressful decision to leave my home and friends. I pray that Irene goes off shore. As we know, it is a unpredictable storm. My prayers go out to everyone who chose to stay. Pat


August 26, 2011 10:05 am

Iam dug in the generator works,the storm dont worry me, its aftewards!

NY Visitor

August 26, 2011 9:26 am

Hope everyone makes it through ok! We are going to come down the week of September 19th – Please no more hurricanes!

Allan 2

August 26, 2011 7:45 am

Good Luck Ty. BUT remember those photos of people in N.O.? They rode it out thinking it would not be so bad. The next thing we see are clips of them asking for help. It would have been a hard decision for me too however. You evacuate with hopes that you can return soon and yet it will be days, if not weeks before the area is reopened. During the past 40 years there has not been a storm which measures up to this one. Maybe not with regard to specific effects at specific locations but as far as impacting the entire NC coast. The “big one” was always spoken of as one which had this specific path. This IS the big one. People sitting up in Duck thinking about a landfall down at the cape are going to be surprised. Of course, a shelter in Jackson hardly sounds like a good option.

Ty Webb

August 25, 2011 5:08 pm

I’m riding it out Lieutenant Dan Style. High ground, a generator and plenty of supplies. This ain’t my first rodeo. See y’all on the other side.


August 25, 2011 4:43 pm

I love the Carolina coast, IBX and Charleston, the best beaches in the US. I hope everything is fine for the Outer Banks. We will be ther eon September 10th for a week!


August 25, 2011 4:18 pm

To stop the rumors before they begin: County offices WILL be closed tomorrow, as per announcement from the HR Director. That is quite a relief, as many of us have things to do before the rains hit!

Stay safe, everyone!!!


August 25, 2011 2:58 pm

I was just told the County offices are not closing tomorrow. How can they set a mandatory evacuation and not close County offices? Does Bobby realize how long it will take people who live outside or on the north end of the county to get HOME on Friday afternoon??!!


August 25, 2011 12:54 pm

Stand strong OBX. Thankful you did beach renourishment to protect the shore. We will be back soon!


August 25, 2011 9:34 am

From all of us in the Hampton Roads area that LOVE the OBX: Prepare, hang tough, and be safe. Once the storm has passed, you know we’ll all be here to assist in any way we can! God Bless!


August 25, 2011 9:27 am

At least it is still to the east. It would be much worse if we were on its east side.


August 24, 2011 11:55 pm

We are supposed to come down Sunday for the week. I’m hoping Monday the evacuation order will be lifted. Last year it was Earl and the evacuation was only for a day. Crossing my fingers that Irene will do the same and steer right!!!


August 24, 2011 3:18 pm

I remember Isabel, it had alot of wind damage in my hometown and Floyd had more water damage. Now that I have moved for that area and now live in Tornado Alley I really miss the hurricanes! I spent alot of time at Nags Head growing up and living an hour away from there it was easy to go every weekend. You are in my thoughts and prayers and hopefully it wont be to damaging there.


August 24, 2011 10:40 am

Well there goes all the nice dredging Nags Head did. Hopefully this won’t be another Isabel.

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