As I sit here trying to come up with the opening words to write this blog, I can not help but think of all that has happened on Hatteras Island, since Hurricane Irene hit. By now, most of you have heard through the news media about the destruction here. Many homes and businesses were destroyed. Lives are now changed in so many different ways. But just as our ancestors have done over the years, we will persevere. We have pulled together and once again shown our strengths as a community. I am so proud and so thankful for all who have rolled up their sleeves, put on their waders and boots, in order to selflessly lend a hand. We are so blessed…
Dad and I have weathered quite a few storms together in our home. We live in my late Grandparent’s old place in Avon. We feel secure here. This house is built like they used to build them…strong…sturdy…made to endure harsh winds and storms. Dad did however, have the house raised after dealing with it being only three feet off the ground. Only so many times of carpets ruined, walls warped, and furniture and appliances trashed, can one take. So up it went…12 feet into the air.
About a week before Irene hit, all eyes pretty much stayed glued to the weather. A lot of the islanders, especially the old timers, are pretty good at predicting where storms are going and what should be done in order to prepare. With that said, Dad and I made several trips to the grocery store for canned goods and other items that might be needed during and afterwards. We gassed up the trucks. Made sure the generator worked. Moved the camper and both trucks to higher ground. Secured all outdoor items…and then waited.
Waiting for the storm to hit has always seemed the hardest part to me. Not knowing what the storm is going to do to your home, your family, your friends…it’s nerve racking. So Dad and I, along with quite a few others, were feeling quite happy when Irene had dropped to a category 1. But boy, big things do come in small packages. The winds shifted around from the south east to the north west and a mean punch came a long with it. From Avon Village all the way to Manteo, there came a surge of ocean and sound tides. Irene was on a destructive path. A friend of mine who lives in New York called several days after…even the town he grew up in about an hour north of him was destroyed by her. Irene had left a mark.
The above photo shows the home place of the late Gerald Williams. His house is located directly across the road from us. As you can see, the tide paid a visit to many of the homes and businesses of our village. Dad and I were lucky. Many others weren’t. Piles of household items now lay along side the road with signs that read “Do not take away”. Residence are waiting for insurance adjusters to arrive in order to receive aide in restoring what has been destroyed. Dad and I can deal with the stench of mud in the yard. We can deal with no air conditioner. No tv. No phone. Even the loss of the oil tank which heats our water and house, But to imagine dealing with the loss of treasured family photos, family heirlooms, and those things that help one get through everyday life, is hard to comprehend.
And what is more hard to comprehend is the loss of loved ones through such disasters. Saturday night, our family almost lost two very dear members. Celia and Roger Meekins were owners of the house known as, Sentinel on Pamlico. It was their dream home. Located at Mirlo Beach, it was a landmark with it’s tower that resembled a majestic lighthouse. But most of all, it was a place where they went to relax and enjoy the beauty of the island. Below is a link you may follow to read in detail about the fire that occurred there Saturday night and also the flood waters that Celia and Roger found themselves swimming through in order to reach the safe harbor of their nearby neighbors. It is through stories like theirs, that one realizes that there are still those in this world who would give their dearest possession, which is their life, in order to save others.
So here we are, recovering. The villages of Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras…are all being powered by one generator. The village of Waves had a generator delivered but at this point, I am not sure if it is up and running yet. The people who evacuated are still waiting to return home to see what is left of their lives. Re-entry will start this coming Sunday for those of the village of Buxton. Residence of Frisco and Hatteras will be allowed to re-enter on Monday and Tuesday. Dare County Emergency Managements has posted travel info on their website.
Dare County Emergency Management
Our recovery will be a long one. Yesterday, Elizabeth B. Fox and myself, took a ride up to Rodanthe to see for ourselves the destruction that had occurred. Between the two of us and Liz’s mother, Dixie Burrus Browning, we put together three totes to take with us that consisted of clothing, shoes, lanterns, and unopened over the counter meds, and various other items, to donate. The Salvation Army has brought in relief efforts in order to help. But there were also many natives and locals, such as the Gaskins family of Avon, the men and women of the Cape Hatteras Electric Company, the Avon Volunteer Fire Deptment,and many others to numerous to mention who gave of themselves in order to help us along the path of recovery. A heart felt “Thank you”, is in order.
I’ll end this Hurricane Irene blog with photographs taken yesterday, of the breach at Mirlo Beach. Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers…
Dawn F. Taylor