October 28, 2012

A strange storm named Sandy


 Islanders didn’t prepare for Hurricane Sandy like other hurricanes that have threatened our community in the past.  The forecast was bad enough to be taken seriously, but without evacuation orders issued by Dare County, people didn’t seem intimidated by this thing called Sandy.

 Some businesses and homeowners put up their hurricane shutters, but most did not.  There was some movement of vehicles to higher ground and boats pulled out of the water.  Grocery stores were a little busy as people, both local and visitors, stocked up just in case something happened.  In general, though, most folks didn’t expect it to be that bad.

 By Saturday, visitors were leaving from their week’s vacation while a fresh group was just arriving.  Most restaurants and shops closed at 2 p.m. because there wasn’t much eating out or shopping going on.  The skies were dark and the rain was steady.  The growing northeast wind attracted kiters and windsurfers out to play.  Other than that, it was a rather blah day.

 The rain and winds increased overnight.  Dawn’s early light revealed that soundside flooding had already begun.  In fact, the island was being flooded simultaneously from the sound and ocean at high tide.

 The favorite high spots for storms were quickly filled with vehicles because water was flowing in all over the island.  Given the wind speed, direction, and duration from weather forecasts, this was a smart thing to do.

 There really wasn’t much for folks to do but drive around.   Mass was canceled at Our Lady of the Seas Catholic Church and there were no services at some other churches. The restaurants and shops were closed until after the storm.  At high tide, the ocean stopped traffic in Buxton and south of Frisco which meant there weren’t even a lot of places to drive to. 
 So people drove around looking for something to see.   People clambered around the motels in Buxton to witness the angry ocean pouring around Highway12 and terrorizing the oceanfront motel units.  The old lighthouse site was another popular stop because the ocean was so large that it could be watched from the dry comfort of a vehicle in the parking lot
Before the water got too high on the road, people ventured south to check on the Frisco Pier.  Sandy has not been kind to this structure but well-wishers hope that she will make it to see another day.

 Conner’s Supermarket in Buxton reported to have had a decent day.  According to Travis Salyers, “People were bored.  Most had already done their shopping before the storm but came in because we were open.”

 Most retreated home to spend the day watching football or getting all the latest about Hurricane Sandy from Facebook.  Thank goodness the island had electricity, though Hatteras village did lose power in the late afternoon.

 Facebook was alive with pictures, videos, and information almost as quick as it was happening.   Suddenly, everything was common knowledge just by following the news feed:  where the road was passable and where it wasn’t, who had lost a tree, when high tide was, who gets headaches from these storms, which house fell in at Rodanthe, that the road north of Rodanthe has issues and so forth.

Lots of people stayed in touch with each other and experienced Day 1 of Hurricane Sandy in their own personal cyber world.  It is safe in there, and the weather is always perfect.
 But what will we do when the power goes out?

 Tomorrow, the weather is predicted to be more of the same but probably with higher flood waters.  How will we keep ourselves occupied for another day of high winds, driving rain, and flooding?

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