In northern OBX, damage but not destruction

By on September 7, 2019

After 10 or 12 hours of steady rain, wind and debris beating against the house, a certain amount of cabin fever sets in. On the fringe of a hurricane, where the winds never quite get to 75 or 80 miles per hour and the storm surge never gets to the house, as soon as the winds fall below 25 mph and the rains let up a bit, there is almost a need to be outside.

Stepping outside it’s an odd landscape. Lawns are almost obscured by branches that have been ripped from trees. Trees have toppled, the shards of their trunks looking like nothing so much as giant toothpicks.

Although the beach shows evidence of Dorian’s power, the real evidence of the storm’s destructive force is in the dense foliage of the maritime forests of the Outer Banks.

Driving along the Woods Road that cuts through the heart of Kitty Hawk Woods, the blacktop is covered in leaves and small branches. The town of Kitty Hawk must have sent their clean-up crews and emergency personnel out even before the last squall line passed. Whole trees that must have fallen across the road have already been hauled to the side so traffic can get through.

Along the beach, Dorian’s passing did leave its mark. Avalon Pier in Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head Pier in Nags Head end abruptly in shattered pieces of wood. The ends of the piers have ceased to exist.

The Beach Road in Kitty Hawk is covered and packed with wet sand that was probably deposited by the sea as it ran over the dunes. There is standing water on the road in Nags Head in places where in the past, the ocean has crossed the beach and dunes.

Not much is open. There are a few convenience stores ready for business, their windows boarded up, but a sign out front says “Open.” At least three Chinese restaurants were open by early evening.

Heading toward Manteo, multiple colored flashing light on the Causeway cross the highway. On the south side of the road, every pole carrying power to Manteo is down. Some have simply fallen over, dragging their wires with them. Others have been snapped in two. All of them have fallen over in a sort of bizarre parallel pattern, telling a perfect story of the winds that came howling unobstructed across Roanoke Sound.

Witnessing the destructive force that must have broken the back of the power grid feeding Manteo, it seems odd that there wasn’t more damage on the northern Outer Banks. That level of damage, it appears, was reserved for Hatteras Island and Ocracoke.



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  • Ruthless

    The wet sand on the Beach Road in Kitty Hawk was wind driven from the beach. Note that there is no tide line over the road.

    Saturday, Sep 7 @ 11:51 am