Hurricane Matthew ended its deadly and
devastating march up the East Coast of the United States early this
morning when it moved south of Cape Hatteras and finally headed out
to sea. At 5 p.m., Matthew, now a post-tropical cyclone, was 200
miles east of Cape Hatteras.
In the storm's wake, southern Hatteras
and Ocracoke islands saw flooding that was much higher than Tropical
Storm Hermine's on Sept. 3. The surge was also much higher than many
other notorious storms that have raked the islands in years past and
may set some records in Hatteras and Ocracoke villages.
Several residents of Hatteras village
say they have never in their lifetimes seen more soundside flooding
than they did starting between 4 and 5 a.m. this morning when the
wind shifted to the northwest and picked up, sending water from the
Pamlico Sound rushing toward shore.
Beth and Ted Midgett, who live on Eagle
Pass Road, near the ferry docks said the surge was higher than both
Emily in 1993 and Isabel in 2003 at their house. Beth said it was up
to her hips on the house's first floor. Donna Peele on Kohler Drive
said she had water in her house for the first time ever.
Donna and Charlie Barnett on Fulcher
Lane in the "Sticky Bottom" welcomed neighbors who had to
make a risky dash in deep water to the Barnett house, where water was
just inches from coming in the door.
The winds was screeching in the early
morning darkness, and houses were creaking and rattling and shifting
like many hadn't in a long time,
Pray for our island! Pretty bad down
here! Waiting for sunlight," Belinda Willis wrote on her
Facebook Page, before the power went out.
Indeed the wind was terrifying, but
just about exactly what the local National Weather Service office in
Newport/Morehead City had predicted. Sustained winds on much of
Hatteras and Ocracoke were about 45 to 50 mph with gusts up to 80. I
measured a 77 in Frisco at 5:48. The Barnetts measured an 86 in
Hatteras a little earlier.
Down on Ocracoke, Jesse
Spencer told the Ocracoke Observe that he had about six more inches
of tide in his yard than he did in Hurricane Alex, which struck the
island in 2004 and was considered to have set the island record for
In areas of Frisco,
there was reportedly up to 5 feet of water on Highway 12 in places.
In Brigand's Bay, the surge was about 1.5 to 2 feet higher than it
was in Hermine, making Matthew's total somewhere around 4 feet above
ground level. At my house, the flooding was more than Alex, Gloria
in 1885, Irene in 2011 -- and second only to Emily.
Just after daylight, a house
in Brigand's Bay caught fire as the tide rolled through and over it.
The house, at the corner of Buccaneer Drive and Freebooter St.
belongs to off-island property owners and was unoccupied.
With the high water, neither
the Frisco or the Buxton Fire Department could make it to the scene,
though Buxton tried. In the heavy wind, the house burned to the
ground in no time. The cause of the fire is not known.
In Buxton, the surge
was much higher than Hermine, but didn't reach Emily levels. The
power of the surge moved a heavy piece of equipment at Conner's
Supermarket -- that looked like a freezer -- right across the
highway. The school's parking lot and athletic fields were covered
with floodwaters, but it was unclear if water actually got into the
Avon had a battering day of flooding
that kept roads nearly impassible for the bulk of Sunday. Residents
awoke to soundside flooding that ranged from 1 to 4 feet deep,
depending on the area, as well as no power, and hammering north winds
and house-shaking conditions.
The wind was still fierce at
mid-morning, and in some locations it looked like the flooding had
started to subside, with patches of road appearing under the
Unfortunately, this break in the action
did not last long, and by noon., the water levels had risen again,
retaking pavement, and putting the bulk of Avon neighborhoods
By 4 p.m., adventurous residents had
gone out to explore the scene – either by foot, in a
four-wheel-drive vehicle, or on a paddle board or canoe – which
could all be maneuvered, with some luck and skill, along Highway 12.
The highway close to the Breeze-Thru
and Ketch 55, as well as a number of oceanside Avon streets, appeared
to be clear, however, large portions of Avon -- Leslie Lane and most
points south -- were still under 1 to 3 feet of water at 4:30 p.m.
If there was anything to get a good
laugh at today on Hatteras Island, it was the sight of a huge barge
with a huge crane on it snuggled up to the bulkhead of a rental house
on the Avon soundfront. Just a few hours before, the barge and crane
had been part of the Bonner Bridge construction project.
The house when the barge parked itself
was full of visitors, who weren't quite sure what to make of the
situation until an Island Free Press photographer noted that one more
move of the barge could take down the house. The visitors were last
seen leaving the area.
Very little if any tide
was reported in Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo -- which were slammed in
Hurricane Irene and also had the island's highest surge in Hurricane
Arthur in 2014.
In Hatteras village,
the floodwaters surged into houses, wreaked havoc along the village's
waterfront, and even tore up some of the boats. The damage in
Hatteras appears to be major from the surge.
Reports of damage seem
to be fewer in other villages, though a mess of tables, chairs,
small boats and kayaks, pieces of lumber in all sizes, lumber, trash,
tools, gas cans, plants, toys, propane tanks, tons of eel grass,
and a lot of stinking mud covered yards, driveways, and roads.
About mid-day, the wind let
up slightly and the surge receded by a foot or two. However,
mid-afternoon's high tide brought back some of the floodwaters and
the wind was still blowing 25 to 30 mph or so with gusts to 35 or 40.
The National Weather
Service's meteorologist Bob Frederick said it will take some time for
the storm surge to completely recede. The winds will be slow to come
down, he said, keeping soundside flooding around maybe for another
Major beach erosion or ocean
overwash has not been reported on northern Hatteras Island, and
Highway 12 appears to be passable, though covered in sand and water
in places. Frederick said the NWS is concerned about the next high
tide at about 2:30 or 3 a.m. early Monday morning. A coastal flood
warning is in effect for Cape Hatteras north until 4 a.m.
Also, the NWS has issued a
high wind advisory for the Outer Banks for winds of 25 to 35 with
gusts to 50 until 11 a.m. Monday. And a high surf advisory is in
effect, for Cape Hatteras north, until 6 a.m. Tuesday.
Overall, the high winds and
storm surge were basically right on the mark of what the National
Weather Service had been forecasts last week -- forecasts that were
really bad on Tuesday, a little better on Wednesday and Thursday, and
then a worse again on Friday and Saturday.
briefings, the local Weather Service forecast sustained winds of 50
to 55 mph with gusts to 80, which is what happened. Storm surge was
forecast to be 3 to 5 feet above ground level -- with up to 6
feet in lower spots -- and 4 to 7 feet above normal. In most areas,
it came pretty close to that.
Rainfall was much less than forecast on
the Outer Banks, but mainland eastern North Carolina is dealing with
horrific and devastating flooding from rainfall amounts of a foot or
more in many place. Rivers are expected to crest at levels that will
bring record flooding that perhaps will equal Hurricane Floyd in
The Cape Hatteras Electric
Cooperative threw everything it could at the storm damage to the
power grid. Power was restored to all but about 680 scattered homes
and business by sundown. Crews will start working first thing in the
morning on the remaining outages.
NEWS TO USE
Access to both Dare
County and Hatteras Island is restricted until further notice.
Access to Hatteras is restricted to essential personnel --- such as
personnel for utilities, government, and damage assessment and
medical personnel -- permanent residents of the island with a valid
N.C. driver license with a valid address or a current property tax
receipt, and essential personnel for critical Hatteras Island
business who should have passes.
The Island Free Press will
bring you much more news of the storm and damage to Hatteras and
Ocracoke during the next few days.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW SLIDE SHOW
A Quiet Morning Begins A Stormy Weekend With Matthew
UPDATE: Get ready for high winds, heavy rain, storm surge on Hatteras and Ocracoke
Latest Matthew forecast about the same, but focus now on rain
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Hyde issues state of emergency, orders evacuations
State of Emergency declared in Dare, Matthew still aiming for Outer Banks
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Outer Banks is keeping an eye on Matthew