of normalcy began to appear today around the villages of Hatteras
Island as floodwaters began to recede when Superstorm Sandy moved north
of the region.
awakened this morning to less water in their yards, weakening winds,
and blue skies. After being cooped up inside for days, people
were eager to move about the villages to see what havoc Sandy had
wreaked on the island. More of the island was accessible today
because the roads had dried out a lot and the North Carolina Department
of Transportation cleared two major problems on Highway 12 in the
overwash had collapsed the dunes between Hatteras and Frisco, covering
the road with lots of sand. The road had been passable for the
last couple of days at low tide to those with four-wheel drives.
With the storm moving away, DOT closed this section of road this
morning so road crews could work uninterrupted to push the sand off the
north end of Buxton battled the ocean for days, and at times, the storm
surge flowed heavily through the motels, stopping traffic. Travel
had been difficult through this area for a couple of days. Crews
worked for hours today on clearing the road, making it passable for all
Buxton oceanfront got beat up from the angry seas kicked up by what was
Hurricane Sandy. Most of the dunes from the Cape Hatteras Motel
to the lighthouse were leveled. With nothing to block the huge
waves, many houses sustained minor to major damage. Side streets
were covered with shin- to thigh-high water and there was storm debris
everywhere you looked --pieces of asphalt, wood pilings, stair treads,
pieces of decks, and boardwalks, too.
old lighthouse site was also a mess. The power of the water was
quickly evident looking at the circle of engraved granite pieces that
designated where the old lighthouse sat until 1999. These heavy
pieces had been lifted and moved around and now sit in disarray.
Old bricks were strewn around, probably remnants of the old lighthouse foundation that was buried here.
between the mess, fathers fished with their sons and young men surfed
the jetty. Many walked around in their waterproof boots,
surveying the post-storm scene, enjoying the cool and breezy but sunny
village also suffered some loss of dunes. The Flambeau Road
shipwreck exposed her bones again as a result of the storm. For
those who have never seen this 200-foot relic, tomorrow might be a good
day to check it out.
not all was happy with the villagers. Cell phone service had been
spotty all day and even worse, the Internet was down for most.
The cable in Rodanthe had been severed, but not all the way through,
which meant some had Internet but most did not.
were hungry for information. Most folks were getting information
by word of mouth, and there were a lot of serious topics in people’s
minds -- the condition of the Bonner Bridge, the condition of Highway
12 north of Rodanthe, the status of the emergency ferry, and so forth.
the road was cleared at Buxton, my husband, Donny, and I finally drove
north for a far as we could. There was still some water on the
highway in Avon, mostly from overflowing ditches. The Food Lion
was open, as were some restaurants.
north, the road to the tri-villages was basically clear. There
was high water in the ditches, which occasionally overflowed. The
ocean had washed sand over a section of road at Ramp 30, which will
need to be cleared.
in the villages, there were several areas that were covered in water,
including Wind over Waves, Kitty Hawk Kites, Lisa’s Pizza, the post
office, and around the area where Jo Bob’s operated until Hurricane
Irene decimated the building last August.
we drove around the corner and were overwhelmed with the awful feeling
that we had stepped back in time to August and September 2011 when this
area was ravaged by Hurricane Irene.
the left, there was a line of cars that stretched out to the road,
waiting for the emergency ferry that would take them off the
island. It would be a one-way ride for visitors. Only
residents, off-island property owners, employees of island businesses,
and supplies and equipment needed to repair the road are allowed to make
the trip back from Stumpy Point.
the law enforcement roadblock, we could see that this section of
Highway that runs through Mirlo Beach was covered in sand. In the
distance was a large section of broken asphalt, looking like
old-fashion ribbon candy. The road will take some time and
manpower to repair. The good news is that the sandbags held the
ocean back and there was no inlet like the year before.
the oceanfront at Mirlo Beach, there was another house gone, taken by
Sandy. It was the second house from the end. There was
almost no debris anywhere from the fallen structure. A broken
mirror, a blue metal bed frame, and a few twisted pilings that were
about knee-high were the only evidence that a house even existed here.
neighbor, Wave Breaker, appears to be in jeopardy, too. Every
piling on the house was leaning seriously to the south and the
structure didn’t look stable on top of them. Making matters
worse, the structure was creaking.
this point, Donny and I caught a ride with the Chicamacomico Banks
Volunteer Fire Department as they drove north to investigate the
viability of creating a temporary four-wheel-drive only road. The
department has a six-wheel truck called that can navigate just about
“If push came to shove, we need to know if we can get off the island this way,” said Larry Grubbs, captain of the department.
and I climbed up into the back of this supersized truck with Greg
Anderson, a volunteer in the department, to see what was beyond Mirlo
the broken road was not a problem. It was clear driving for about
a half a mile when we encountered the first section of broken dune
that had washed out the road towards the sound. There
was a substantial amount of dune missing, and the driving was difficult.
were several more sections of flattened dunes as we made our way
to the temporary bridge at the Pea Island Inlet, which was created last
year by Hurricane Irene. There were areas of road still wet with
standing water. Cormorants had taken over the road, and Larry
took great care to avoid hitting every one of them. It was slow
the temporary bridge, the southbound lane was undermined, but the
northbound lane was fine. The inlet itself was much different
than before the storm. It was wider than it had been and both the
north and south shorelines were straight and completely parallel to
each other. It looked deeper, and water flowed freely from the
sound to the ocean. Gone was the delta that had formed at the
west side of the bridge.
got very interesting north of here. From about the Pea Island
Visitors Center, the protective ocean dunes were gone. For miles,
the sand from the dunes covered the road and into the wetlands.
Here and there, tiny little dunes remained, but that was it. The
landscape looked barren and flat. Travel was slow and bumpy.
road was probably intact under the massive amount of sand because there
was no evidence of broken asphalt, but it was going to take a lot of
bulldozer hours to find it.
trip stopped about a mile or two south of the Oregon Inlet Bridge when
we saw heavy equipment in the distance working south of the old
U.S.Life-Saving Station at Oregon Inlet.
DOT left the equipment south of the bridge in advance of Superstorm Sandy.
was a long and chilly trip back to Rodanthe in the back of the mammoth
truck. Clouds had formed, blocking the sun’s last warm rays of
the day. It was sad seeing the oceanfront houses for the first
time from this direction. The Black Pearl stood tall, but some of
its neighbors were rather beaten up or missing.
the last couple of days, people have tried to compare Sandy to other
storms. There has been a lot of comparing and contrasting to last
year’s storm, Hurricane Irene. Then there was Hurricane Noel in
2007, the November storm of 2008, and also a northeaster in 1973.
I spent the last couple of days traveling around Hatteras Island and
seeing seen what Sandy has done since Saturday, I believe this storm
will stand on its own accord. Sandy has made her own historic
impression on the island that will live in our memories for some time
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