The Irene Story from Hatteras Island

The purpose of this post is to provide a comprehensive storyboard of events for the situation on Hatteras Island, from today dating back to August 26, 2011. Words can’t really describe the position in which Hurricane Irene has placed many of Hatteras Island’s locals. Hopefully these videos can serve justice to the disaster at hand. The Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo areas are still very much in need of serious help.

Here is the first official Hurricane Irene coverage video. I shot this at 8:30 am, Thursday, August 25th. Notice my happy-go-lucky attitude, and notice the condition of the area of which I am standing.

The next video was taken by Kristina Hooper in Buxton later that afternoon. Kristina’s Father, Elvin Hooper, was boarding up his house at the time of this interview. His vast knowledge of the Island is conveyed here, and you will see a follow up interview with Elvin (later in this blog post) from after the storm. Elvin Hooper was born and raised on Hatteras Island.  He has been here for 62 years, and was born in Buxton when they had a small hospital.

When I first posted this next video from the same afternoon, I received plenty of negative remarks such as “waste of time”, and “why would you post this?” Well I hope now, people can fully understand the symbolism behind these red and black flags, and the deep history they represent.

This next video was the last one I took from Thursday, August 25, 2011. We still had no idea what the fate of our Island was at this point. Some of my friends actually drove down this night in hopes of waking up early to surf Irene’s frontrunner swells. They woke up, looked at the surf, and the Ocean was angry, so they fled the Island.

It is now about 8:30 am, Friday, August 26, 2011 – and I decided to take a 30-minute time lapse video of Irene’s outer bands approaching the Island.

The following video was taken right after I shot the time lapse. At this point I start feeling a bit nervous after watching the latest forecasts for Irene’s track. The old Salts always say “watch out for the one’s that come up the sound”. Well that was exactly what this one was expected to do. When I get nervous, I say “um” a lot.

Now, I really start to feel the humidity from the approaching storm. My shirt was hot and wet, so I removed it. Trying to make light of a serious matter, I decided to walk you through the “Hurricane survival kit”. When I look back at this, I am almost embarrassed and ashamed I even did this. But cold snacks are definitely a must!

This next video was taken about 2 hours after the survival kit video, and in those 2 hours the humidity level jumped from about 85% to nearly 100%! This is a great angle from “Aah View” in the Outer Beaches Realty rental program. They have an outstanding view of the Avon Pier from the top level. You can see the conditions slowly getting worse here.

Here’s a video from the same location shot about 4 hours later. The humidity level is still maxed out, and the wind seems to be picking up a little more at this point. This will be the last video from Friday, August 26, 2011.

The next video was taken upon Irene’s landfall at 6:30 am, Saturday, August 28, 2011. We were seeing strong wind and rain, but nothing we haven’t seen before. The top part of the storm was serving up Southeast winds from the Ocean. This is where things get exciting for anyone who enjoys the rush Mother Nature tends to deliver.

This one was taken a couple of hours later, in the Oceanfront view vantage point at the end of Tigrone Boulevard during the peak of the Southeast wind strength. Here, I am still trying to have fun with a very serious situation. We were still unaware of the severe Soundside flooding to come.

After about 12 hours of strong Easterly winds, the eye passes directly over Hatteras Island. This video is taken during the passing of the eye. The calm atmosphere allows us to drive around and inspect for wind damage. We find little severe damage, and we think the worst is over. Although we still had no clue what happened to the other Villages around Avon, we thought the entire Island was in the clear.

2 Hours later we go back to the Sound and assess the recession of water. It was almost shocking how we couldn’t even see where the water had gone. People were walking around nearly a quarter mile out on the Sound, and the winds were very strong out of the East still. I think we all had a sneaky suspicion that something weird was happening, but we wanted to believe the worst was over and the flooding wouldn’t be that bad.

A few hours later, we head back out to the Soundside of Avon to see if the water had started coming back in. The wind had switched from E to SW. Usually, the wind slowly makes its way from E to NW, but this time it stayed SW at about 40 mph for almost 12 hours! This video shows the start of the flooding, again, we thought this would be the worst of it, and we had no idea what was happening anywhere else on the Island.

This is when things get real. I notice the water is nearly 3 feet deep on the Oceanside of Avon, so I start wondering how deep the Soundside is. All power is completely out, and all I have to illuminate anything is a flashlight app on my smartphone. When I walk outside, it just so happens Alex is across the street checking on the main office generator. I start to think about my family and friends, and all of the people still on the Island.

Now it’s 6:30 am, Sunday, August 28, 2011 – the morning after Irene. I haven’t slept all night, and all I can think about is my family and the rest of the Island. I decide to drive around and assess the damage. The water has started to recede, but there is still plenty around. This is only the beginning. We still have NO clue how the rest of the Island, and the Outer Banks in general has fared.

After venturing around Avon, Alex Risser (OBR President) and I decide to head north to the Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo area to see how things are. We still had no clue what to expect, but we heard from Scott Leggat (OBR VP) that things were pretty bad. He was right, to say the very least.

A few days later, I decided to examine the ferry dock at Rodanthe, as well as the north beach campground damage. The military presence was young, and Food Lion was nice enough to supply the Island with free ice and water.

At this point, I decided to let a few days pass between videos. The nature of the situation was settling in, and it was becoming more real than ever. Driving around with a camera watching the locals pile their lives up on the side of the soggy road led me to start a fundraiser with the exposure my youtube videos had attracted. After some brainstorming for a few hours, HELP 4 HATTERAS was born. A week later, we raised over $5,500 dollars, and I plan on raising plenty more. People who love the Island, and can’t get here to help, have been buying H4H gear from HELP4HATTERAS.org – shirts, coozies, magnets & oval stickers are for sale, and 100% of proceeds go to Hatteras Island disaster relief.

Here is a video interview with Graham Leggat, a local surfboard builder, artist and surfer. Graham lives on Laughing Gull in the Village of Waves, which is a very localized area. Everyone on the road was flooded out, their lives in piles.

This next video is intended to shed light on the excellent work that our NCDOT has done to repair the breach of Highway 12 in Rodanthe.

We decided it would be a good idea to show people the emergency ferry process. After I posted this video, some people may have gotten the idea that I was blaming the ferry system for running the operation incorrectly. I want to assure everyone that I was not trying to come across that way. I admit I got a little caught up in my own frustration toward a very unfortunate and serious matter. For that I apologize, and would like to commend the ferry system and their workers for everything they are doing to maintain supply and property owners access.

Once I got back on the Island, I immediately wanted to check on the Highway 12 repair project in Rodanthe. After all of the large swells we had been having, I thought the sand bridge they were constructing would have been a little washed out, but I was surprised to see how strong it looked. While the progress is impressive, we knew we could count on these hard working Men and Women to get the job done in a timely manner.

The last video in this compilation is a follow-up talk with local resident of 62-years, Elvin Hooper.  I work with Elvin’s daughter Kristina, who had the initial idea to interview her Father while he was boarding up his home in Buxton before the storm. We had a lot of views with positive feedback on the first video, we had to do a second. This post-Hurricane Irene interview discusses the history of the Island’s natural state, and how the recent years have taken a toll on the natural defenses of the Island from situations like this.

Thanks for reading, watching and considering a donation to Hatteras Island Hurricane Irene relief efforts! The local community needs our help to get their lives back to normal so they can welcome visitors back to their beautiful Island!

Kurt Kessler with Outer Beaches Realty

T-shirts! (S-XXL)

Stickers & Magnets!

Coozies for your Cold Snacks!

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About Outer Beaches Realty

Outer Beaches offers the widest selection of vacation homes on Hatteras Island. From 1-bedroom condos to 8-bedroom mini-resorts, we have you covered! We are PET FRIENDLY, and dedicated to providing the best customer service and accommodations. CHOOSING YOUR OBX VACATION WITH OUTER BEACHES GUARANTEES YOU THE BEST PRICE AND VALUE! Vacation Rentals, Property Management and Real Estate Sales Call Outer Beaches Realty today and get started on planning your next beach vacation. 800.627.1850

Posted on September 22, 2011, in Stories, Weather and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. thks Kurt for sharing..great job!..

  2. Very nicely done! Thank you for sharing, for those of us who love the area. My heart goes out to ALL who have to rebuild their lives.

  3. Great videos Kurt. I watched them all as you posted them, but I decided to watch them again. Hatteras Island is like my second home. Myself and my family have vacationed in the OBX 2-3 weeks every year since 1968 (I was 8 yrs old) 12 of us were just here in July. My hubby, my sons, and 12 of their friends will be coming in November for their annual “just the guy” fishing trip.
    Thank you again for keeping us updated!

  4. Nancy Flickinger

    You have done a magnificent job Kurt! What a blessing it has been to so many people, property owners, residents, visitors, and the general public to see how much devistation there is and how it all came to be. Very informative! Thank you and Outer Beaches Realty for providing such a complete coverage. We have grown to depend on your information.

    A Rodanthe property owner

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