Hurricane Irene Aftermath
August 28, 2011 Facebook TwitterMore...
UPDATE:  Hurricane Irene Wallops Hatteras Island,
Cutting the Island and all communications


The outside world probably knows more of what has happened to Hatteras Island than the people who stayed during this major weather event.

The storm, which approached from the south, impacted Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands for over 24 hours.  Heavy rains and increasing winds battered the islands from early Saturday morning through Sunday morning.  Islanders lost power before sunrise in most places.

Several breaches broke through the dunes between Frisco and Hatteras, the Mirlo beach area of north Rodanthe and on Pea Island which impeded the flow of traffic and information.  Currently, there is no cell phone service or land line service, no power and it is difficult to report accurately on the damages and effects of this powerful hurricane.

This is what we do know.  Hwy 12 is passable between Frisco and Hatteras Village.  The dunes were breached in four areas along this stretch.  DOT cleared the road of sand on Sunday and restored the dunes.  There is a small area on the southbound lane which collapsed and will need repairing.  Otherwise, the road is intact and totally passable by midday.

It is a different story further north.

According to our sources, Highway 12 was cut in four places.  Currently, there is a cut in the road at Mirlo Beach in north Rodanthe.  Water is flowing from ocean to sound near or over the area where the Serendipity House sat before it was relocated back in January 2010.  

The road on the south side of this breach has collapsed between four to eight feet in places.  The length of the dropped road is about 10 houses long.  The width of the breach is smaller than the inlet created by Hurricane Isabel back in September 2003.

Further north on Pea Island are three more breaks.  One of them is reported to be significant with an estimated depth of 6 feet and about 100 to 200 yards across.

The electric substation which was in this area was washed away.  At this time, we do not know how it will impact the residents on Hatteras Island.

Sunday evening, the National Guard arrived on Hatteras Island via ferry from Swan Quarter to Hatteras.  Trucks loaded with personal and supplies converged at the Buxton Rescue Squad around 8:00 p.m. to devise a plan on how and where to send the supplies which consisted of bottled water, Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) and tarps.

Incident Commander, Bob Helle, said that some of the supplies were to stay in the southern villages and distribution would be handled by the local fire departments.  The majority of the supplies would be taken north by the National Guard to the tri-village area of Rodanthe, Salvo and Waves which much harder hit by the massive hurricane.

The local doctors evacuated for the storm and their return was hampered by the battered condition of Highway 12.  A special task force team was sent in by the Red Cross to the medical clinic in Avon to help local residents.  A PA (physician’s assistant), two paramedics, 1 nurse and a basic EMT were manning the clinic until our doctors can return.  

It is reported that this emergency task force team is often sent into areas following natural disasters and are used to sleeping in tents.  Having a facility like the clinic to stay in was a luxury for them.

On Monday, an emergency ferry will bring supplies to Rodanthe via ferry from Stumpy Point.  No people will be transported on this ferry, only the dry goods and supplies.

Hurricane Irene brought strong east to southeast winds which caused the ocean to pound the coast line for almost a day which pushed all the water out of the Pamlico Sound.  Because the storm moved slowly past Hatteras to the west, most locals felt that the reverse storm surge would be mild and sound waters which had piled up north and west of the area would return more gradually.

Many were shocked at the amount of sound water that flooded the area over Saturday night and into Sunday.  

Mike Sheley of Frisco, got into his truck to move it to higher ground when the flood started only to discover the water was over the steering wheel of his big truck.

Brigand’s Bay had waist high water and some neighborhood roads were still impassable by Sunday evening.

Buxton fared better.  But the real trouble started from Avon and got worse further north.  The residents of the old Avon Village, a.k.a. Kinnakeet, had water chest to shoulder high inside their homes.  Many cars went under water at the Avon Post Office which is a popular place to park cars during a potential flood time because it sits on higher ground.

At the moment, we don’t have any specific reports from the tri-villages area but understand from incident commander, Bob Helle, that the situation was not good.

Local radio stations have conducted on-air interviews from the public calling in the information that they know.  Based on what was said on the radio, Manteo, Stumpy Point, Belhaven, Wanchese, Collington, among others, were particularly hit hard by sound side flooding.

As soon as communications and electricity are restored, the Island Free Press will be back with full staff bringing you up-to-date coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Stay tuned.


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