We woke up on the day after Hurricane Irene to a beautiful, balmy, breezy (how’s that for alliteration?) day on the Outer Banks. It almost seemed like the storm had been a crazy dream and that this was just a continuation of our perfect sunny summer… until we walked outside. The unusual thing about Irene was that the storm surge hit us from the sound instead of from the ocean. While the beach was just a little messy, Bay Drive and all the houses and properties along the sound were devastated. The floodwaters washed away docks, filled first floors, and dumped absolutely ridiculous amounts of marsh reeds all over the yards and roads. It was definitely something I had to see to believe, so I think the best way to describe it is through pictures.
Here are some photos of Bay Drive and the soundside area:
Yup, that’s a rowboat that got washed a hundred yards down the road. As for the ocean side, the beach road had pretty much turned into a beach itself – but other than that, the damage was minimal.
Overall, we were still incredibly fortunate. Though many people did lose their belongings or even their homes, the loss of objects and material goods is preferable to the loss of lives. Almost immediately after the storm passed, the entire community banded together to help out where needed and rebuild the areas that were most affected. A bunch of us from work spent a few afternoons at Maria’s (she lives right on the sound and her yard was a combination of complete washout and compacted swamp reeds). I will never forget when someone new to the area asked Maria if anyone was worried about looters with so many homes open and unsecured due to storm damage – Maria looked a little bewildered for a moment before she replied, “Looters? No way… in this town, you have to beat back the help!”
Sometimes the worst situations bring out the best in people. That has certainly been the case here. I’ve never been prouder or more appreciative of the community I live in here on the Outer Banks. It’s a special breed of people, and not one to be taken out by a little thing like a hurricane! After Irene passed, countless people were left without power, safe drinking water, or dry homes, but I can honestly say that I didn’t hear a single instance of negativity or complaining. Instead, I’ve witnessed overwhelming displays of gratitude.
The hurricane brought a whole lot of muck into our yards. It brought a few trees down, and it brought a ton of water snakes and terrifying mutant spiders in from the islands in the sound. But it also brought to light the things we have to be thankful for. It brought opportunities to connect with friends and neighbors, and to support each other in a time of need.
And if nothing else, it brought us one of the best beach days of the summer.