Tuesday, October 30, 2012

We Got Lucky: Sandy Recap & Photos

 [Just up the road from us in Mirlo Beach.]

October 1st was when we last saw each other. Justin stayed in Buxton to work on our house this month. I was originially supposed to go home today or yesterday. It looks like I'll be able to go home later this week by ferry, depending on access and road conditions.

Tracking Sandy has been a learning experience. My first inkling of what was to come was an off-hand comment from one of my friends, "There's a hurricane headed toward the Outer Banks." Which I shared with Justin. He was not concerned, so I was not concerned. Until a day or two later when he sent me a panicked text that he was going to get hit by a hurricane. I didn't think it was that big of a deal, after all I've been through a lot of things. And my other friends seemed nonchalant when they mentioned it.

Justin initially planned to evacuate and I'd meet him somewhere after I finished working. He was concerned that if I left too late there'd be too much water and I wouldn't be able to get out. But as the days passed, it appeared that Sandy would miss us. So he decided to stay and wanted me to come to Buxton to stay with him.

I was too scared to go to the Outer Banks. The road floods even in heavy rain and I drive a low level car. Twice this summer I was caught in high water on that road. I wasn't taking chances. I stayed with friends.

As the storm progressed and I read more and more on hurricanes, I became quite aware of our vulnerable state living on the coast in the possible path of a hurricane. Though the forecasters may have predicted that we'd be spared, you never know until it has passed.

I figured out where to go for weather news: Wunderground. They had the best tracking and up-to-date information. As well, the city websites, especially Virginia Beach & Hatteras Island provided frequent updates and information for citizens. 

From the high point in a large house where I sat with my friend Rob (an optometrist who I met on a humanitarian trip to India in 2005) and his wife Iris, I watched as Hatteras took the initial blow from the hurricane, bracing, strong, with heads high in calmness. They've been hit over and over and know how to keep going. Justin's cousin lives with her three kids in a house in Hatteras, which appeared that it'd take on water the first day. They waded across the street to an aunt's house and waited out the storm. Justin said matter-of-factly, "We'll just have to squeegee her house, bleach the floors, and haul the furniture on the lawn."  He's done it before.

The Outer Banks was not in the direct path. Yet nearly the entire place was severely damaged, a combination of high tide, a full moon, and the timing and force of Sandy. Our friends and family suffered damage and the road was ripped up in several places. A temporary bridge built last year after Hurricane Irene withstood the hurricane but may be damaged.

Remarkably, our house stayed dry as a bone, and from the videos Justin was posting of our house, you wouldn't know that we were even having a hurricane. He put them up for my benefit, so I wouldn't worry. His house has not once taken on water since 1937. It's still hard to believe, but after this, I believe it. And I understand. Also remarkable was that he retained power and cell phone coverage the entire time. Which made it much easier on both of us. (Remarkably, his cousin's house also stayed dry.)

Virginia Beach had localised flooding, in lower areas, as well as a large portion of Norfolk. One island was completely submerged in at least three feet of water. It was serious. But nothing like the upper east coast.

At my Rob and Iris' house, they had the news on continuously. Yet I had no idea what was really going on. Even from right where Sandy was coming inland, watching the news didn't help much. There's so much sensationalism that it's hard to know what is going on and what to expect. They repeat stories without giving useful information. It's as good as having no information at all. Without the internet city and state websites and contact with locals on the ground, I would have had no idea what was going on.

I am relieved it's over. But it was a great learning experience.

The waves persisted after the storm.
 Our new backyard lake.
Mirlo Beach (I think).
 Highway 12. The road to Buxton from Virginia Beach.
 More highway 12.

A few photos from Highway 12 which is the road I take home to Buxton and the Outer Banks: (from the NCDOT, if you click on the photos, they will take you to their stream.) Hurricane Sandy - Pea Island Hurricane Sandy Hurricane Sandy - Pea Island Hurricane Sandy - Temporary Bridge on NC12 Flooding on N.C. 12 on Pea Island in Dare County

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