Hurricane Matthew-Surprising Power in OBX Storm
Hurricane Matthew delivered to the Outer Banks what is in tropical storm terms a haymaker—a wild punch that seemed to catch almost everyone by surprise.
By Thursday of last week we knew the weekend was going to be pretty tough—a lot of rain and some very strong winds to go with it. What we got was a maximum force tropical storm or maybe even a minimal Category 1 hurricane; the lines blur when the winds sustain at 65 mph and wind gusts reach 85. For the record, yes, we know a hurricane windspeed begins at 74 mph.
We’re still picking up the pieces and assessing the damage. Visually, most of the damage appears to be the transportation system. The Beach Road in Kitty Hawk has again been breached by the sea, this time directly across from the Black Pelican, immediately north of the section where sandbags were laid down to create a stable road bed.
We have reports from the North Carolina Department of Transportation that NC12 on Hatteras Island is overwashed in numerous places and that sand and standing water make travel hazardous.
Although it has been lifted now, there was a travel restriction in place, allowing only Dare County residents and property owners to come to the County, and as this is written, some restrictions are still in place. Corolla residents, who had to travel through Dare County to get home, were allowed access as well. There are still travel restrictions in place for Hatteras Island. Please check with Dare County for latest bulletins.
Final rainfall amounts have not yet been tallied but it seems apparent that more than 8” fell in a 24 hour period between Saturday and Sunday night. That amount of rain in such a short period of time overwhelmed even the normally porous Outer Banks soil and miniature lakes and huge ponds formed in places never seen before.
The Dare Center in Kill Devil Hills, home to Food Lion and Belks, became a giant catch basin with standing water covering the entire parking lot.
The combination of ocean overwash and rainfall created an oceanside lake that stretched from Landing Drive in Kill Devil Hills almost to Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, making access to beach in those areas impossible.
A number of trees were toppled. Some split by the wind, but others, the soil surrounding their root system saturated, were torn from the ground, pulled up by their roots. A roadside visual inspection didn’t reveal extensive damage from the trees, but roofs and rain gutters may well have been damaged.
Water damage is the hardest to judge in the immediate aftermath of flooding. Six inches can be the difference between pulling flooring and ripping out drywall or saying a prayer of thanks for keeping water out of a home of business.
Hurricane Matthew was not like other storms that have brushed the Outer Banks. The National Hurricane Center’s projections of the storm’s path were remarkably accurate through Friday. The five day forecast took the storm out to sea south of the Outer Banks, curving to the south and eventually turning it back to the west toward Florida as a very weakened system
On Saturday everything changed; suddenly the storm’s path as it headed into the Atlantic Ocean was ENE paralleling Hatteras Island, and the projection of a loss of strength never occurred. Instead Matthew transitioned to an extratropical system and kept its hurricane force winds well into Sunday.
Although the Outer Banks did not suffer a direct hit from the storm, the back side of the system was almost as powerful as a hurricane, and after 12 hours of torrential rain and six hours of howling winds, the cleanup has begun.
Request for Help
We just received—a request from the Outer Banks Community Foundation for disaster relief for local families.
The Outer Banks Community Foundation is now soliciting donations to the Disaster Relief Fund to support relief and recovery efforts after Hurricane Matthew.
All contributions are tax-deductible, and 100% of all donations will be used to assist individuals and families in need in Dare County.
Although relief crews are just beginning to assess community needs, flooding and damage appear to be widespread. As with all storms, the Community Foundation is collecting monetary donations, while our partners at Interfaith Community Outreach will work directly with affected individuals and families to distribute relief funds to those in need.
Donations can be made online at www.obxdisaster.org, or can be mailed to the Outer Banks Community Foundation at 13 Skyline Road, Southern Shores, NC 27949. Please write “Disaster Relief” in the memo line of your check.