Hurricane Irene, The Experience and Aftermath

Hurricane Irene hit with full force Saturday featuring a double punch of opposite gale force wind direction as the eye of the storm passed nearly over the OBX. I am lucky to live on a high dune area near Jockey's Ridge State Park, thus flooding was not an issue for me. However, for many on the OBX (especially the local community) the west side took the brunt of the storm with major historic soundside flooding as the tail end of Irene's westerly winds brought the raging water onto land and into people's homes/businesses. Roanoke Island, Hatteras Island, Collington, Duck, and other parts of the islands were simply inundated by the Albermarle and Pamlico Sounds. Facebook is alive with images of the aftermath as people captured the experience and posted online. Note, power is out in most of the flooded areas though people were still able to post scenes captured in photography and video. Quite devastating in many areas of the Outer Banks. Amazing that Nags Head fared well considering its neighboring communities. I must admit as an original skeptic of beach nourishment, this project, I believe, saved many parts of the town as we had minimal east side impact with no flooding or ocean overwash. The new beach took the brunt of the storm's easterly rage and held it at bay.

However, on other parts of the island, mainly Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, and Mirlo Beach, the easterly rage broke through and opened new inlets between the ocean and sound along with utter destruction of Rt 12 in vulnerable areas such as Mirlo. Hatteras Island is cut off with no power or communications, and only "supply based" ferry service running between Stumpy Point and Rodanthe is operational. For those down there, fair well and good luck.

Interestingly, on Thursday before my Irene wave sesh (see previous post), I was at a gas station near Whalebone Junction in south Nags Head. An older gentleman who must have been well over 80 yrs old, noted that he was going to ride out the storm in Rodanthe. He was in pretty rough/aged shape and was barely able to give the correct cash to the cashier due to poor eyesight and/or other old age conditions. Bottom line though is that he was in no shape to experience what happened down there and its ensuing aftermath. Hope he is all right, but who knows. It has been reported that 4 fatalities were directly attributed to the storm however, not sure who/where.

All in all, though my family and I weathered the storm with really nothing of concern other than a few power blips, many, many others on the OBX have been drastically impacted by this relatively minor grade storm. The key in this case is the wind directions, length of time it blew, and its impact on the sound waters.

To wrap, we did experience some really FUN surf yesterday as the swell remnants from Irene provided excellent surfing conditions in Nags Head. After cleaning up yard debris, I cut out for an hour session just north of the Nags Head Fishing Pier. A number of guys were out and we all had an excellent time catching wave after wave under beautiful OBX summer sunshine and warm water. Amazing difference from only a day before.

Lets hope for a quick recovery of Hatteras Island and access to that playground south of Oregon Inlet. There is a lot of work to complete; however, as in the past, it will not take long before the south is back in biz!

In Depth Irene Aftermath Local News Coverage:

A few images captured from Facebook (sources: Scott Leggat, Outer Beaches Realty; George Brixhe, 12 Kite; Charles Hardy; Lauren Nassetta)

US Coast Guard Aerial Recon of the Hatteras Island Aftermath