February 11, 2010

It was a girl, and then another girl!
Two Hatteras babies born in latest coastal storm


The latest in a never-ending series of coastal storms that have brought rain, high winds, and ocean and soundside flooding to Hatteras and Ocracoke since November brought more misery and even more excitement to the islands yesterday.

This storm had less rain than the others, the last of which pounded the islands just last weekend.  However, as forecast, the winds were higher and the soundside flooding was more intense, at least on Hatteras Island.

The winds blew a sustained 30 to 40 miles an hour with gusts to 50 and 60 on the islands.  While Ocracoke escaped soundside flooding, most of Hatteras was underwater, beginning early Wednesday morning, Feb. 10.  At least on the southern end of Hatteras, from Avon to Hatteras village, the tides were the highest we have seen since Hurricane Alex in 2004.

However, we’re not about to wallow in our misery – when our friends to the north were buried under two or three feet of snow.

There were several bright sides to the latest storm.

Unlike most other northeasters, we got walloped under sunny, blue skies – on the backside of the storm after a night of rain as the low moved away and deepened.  That made it all a little more bearable.

The tide that started rising quickly Wednesday morning, also receded quickly by late evening.  While there was water in some buildings, especially in Avon, damage was limited.

And two Hatteras families welcomed new baby girls during the flooding.

John and Jane Metacarpa of Frisco, who own the Sandbar and Grille in Buxton, were ready to add a daughter to their family, which already includes 4-year-old Johnny.

Jane was scheduled to deliver the baby by Caesarean section today at Outer Banks Hospital.

When she got up early yesterday and the tide started rising everywhere, she called her obstetrician and the delivery was rescheduled for Friday.

“The last thing he said to me was, ‘Don’t go into labor,’” Jane said in a telephone interview today from the Outer Banks Hospital. “I think that jinxed it.”

By mid-afternoon, her water broke and there were definite signs that this baby was not going to wait until the storm was over.

By evening, Jane and John were persuaded that they need to call 911 for help, which they did about 6:30.

Dare County Emergency Medical Services and the Hatteras Island Rescue Squad came to carry them through wind and high water to the Hatteras Medical Center in Hatteras village.

They were met by Dr. Al Hodges, and the decision was made that Jane needed to go to the hospital immediately.

So EMS and the rescue squad loaded her back in the ambulance and took them through the high tide to the Avon Volunteer Fire Department.  Sound water covered the road most of the way.

At Avon, they met Chicamacomico Banks Fire and Rescue with its deuce-and-a-half – a two-and-a-half ton Army truck with an open and uncovered back.

The driver, Mike Daugherty of Chicamacomico Banks, Jane, and an EMT climbed into the cab.

Two other rescue personnel and John, now outfitted in a waterproof fire suit, climbed into the back.

They headed north.  The trip took about an hour and a half.

“I’ve never seen so much water on the road since I’ve lived here,” Jane said.

She watched it splash up and over the windshield as the driver kept on a steady pace up Highway 12, which at that point was closed to traffic from Rodanthe to the Bonner Bridge.

Meanwhile, the expectant dad and the other two first responders rode in the open back, getting soaked by the water splashing over them

Just south of the Bonner Bridge, the rescue party met another EMS ambulance, and Jane was transferred into it, accompanied by John.

“In about 10 minutes,” she said, “the contractions started and were two minutes apart.”

She was starting to get really worried, but she said the responders kept her calm, though she said the driver did speed up some for the last part of the trip.

They arrived at Outer Banks Hospital at 11:15, Jane said, and Molly Rose Metacarpa was delivered by C-section at 12:12 a.m.

That’s not much time to spare.

Molly Rose is 7 pounds, 7 ounces and 19 inches long, healthy, and, according to her parents, “beautiful.”

“I really want to thank all the amazing people who got us here in time,” Jane said. “It was truly a Hatteras birthing experience.”

Meanwhile, just after Molly Rose was born at the hospital, EMS and the rescue squad answered a call to assist another pregnant woman.  According to Bob Helle of the rescue squad, they met the expectant parents, who have not been identified, about 1 a.m. in the parking lot of the Avon Medical Center, where they had gone looking for help, and took them to the Hatteras Medical Center.

The tide had receded somewhat by then, but with both EMTs in the back of the ambulance attending the mother who was in labor, a member of the rescue squad drove the ambulance as fast as possible through the water to the medical center.

They were met by Dr. Al Hodges, who delivered the baby – another girl.

The baby, Helle said, was born about 10 minutes after their arrival at the medical center and weighed four pounds, 1 ounce.

By then, the tide had receded enough that mother and baby were transported to Outer Banks Hospital by the EMS in an ambulance.

In addition, EMS and the rescue squad evacuated a patient yesterday afternoon from Avon village, where the water was at least three feet high.  That rescue happened with the help of a heavy truck provided by the Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative.

And those were the highlights of this latest storm, enough excitement for one day for a small island.

A few other notes:

The highest sustained wind at Billy Mitchell Airport was 31 mph from the west with a 49-mph northwest gust. No doubt it blew harder than that at other less sheltered locations.

Sound tides were running about three feet above normal in most places on the island, and higher in some spots.

Dare County Schools closed at 11:30 a.m. yesterday and were closed today.  A make-up day is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 13.

Ferry service between Ocracoke and Swan Quarter and Cedar Island was shut down in the morning yesterday and in the evening for the Hatteras Inlet route.  Ferries resumed normal schedules today.

Highway 12 was officially closed for much of the afternoon and evening from the Bonner Bridge to Rodanthe.  It was impassible, or barely passable, in some areas from the tri-villages to Hatteras village.

Another coastal storm is forecast to pass to the south of Hatteras and Ocracoke tomorrow night and could bring a chance of snow or rain and snow, though no accumulation is predicted at this point.

And it’s going to stay cold as far as the forecast goes into the future.  High temperatures since Christmas have run about 10 to 15 degrees below normal.

We’re cold.  But we’re not complaining too loudly when we talk to our family and friends up north.


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