On Ocracoke and Hatteras islands, Dorian hit and hit hard

Published 7:48 am Thursday, September 12, 2019

Hurricane Dorian, the first major hurricane of the 2019 season, formed Aug. 24 and strengthened to a hurricane Aug. 28.

By Sept. 1, the hurricane had reached Category 5 with sustained winds at 185 miles per hour.

It made two landfalls in the Bahamas, in Elbow Cay and on Grand Bahama. Dorian then stalled and weakened to a Category 2.

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On Sept. 3, Dorian started moving north-northwest slowly. At midnight, Sept. 5, the hurricane regained Category 3 intensity but weakened to a one.

The National Weather Service summarizes Dorian’s path: “Dorian would pick up speed and move northeast along the North Carolina coast September 6, moving just south of the Crystal Coast, clipping Cape Lookout and eventually making landfall at Cape Hatteras.”

Dorian waited for 10 days before visiting the Outer Banks. Warnings of a hurricane, storm surge and flash flooding preceded the storm’s arrival.

Dare County ordered visitors out on Tuesday and called for evacuation of residents at 6 in the morning Wednesday, September 4.

The storm started knocking Thursday night.

Pamlico Sound waters were pushed west. The National Weather Service said the storm passed over Cape Hatteras round 8:30 a.m. The eyewall visited Hatteras, Frisco, then Buxton, Avon and finally the three northern villages (Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo) before leaving behind fierce winds that shook houses and broke trees.

Thanks to Dale Murtro in Ocracoke, Hatteras Island was warned about the impending Pamlico Sound flooding. On HAM radio, Murtro said “get ready.” He warned the water comes up fast.

The calm of the storm’s eye belied what came behind.

The Pamlico Sound tide came up fast and deep in Hatteras and Frisco, north Buxton and Avon. A home in Frisco lost its roof. Everything inside was drenched.
At Frisco Volunteer Fire Department, two feet of water invaded the station. The big trucks had been moved to Buxton before the storm.

Firefighters from Kill Devil Hills came down to clean the station so it could function as a post-storm contact and help station. Saturday afternoon, some 20 households sought help.

The station now has a mobile food kitchen serving three meals a day operated by the Salvation Army, which also has a food kitchen at the old PNC bank building in Buxton. Supplies available include tarps, cots, cleaning kits and water.

The storm’s fury on Friday gave way to a wonderful, low humidity, sunshiny day on Saturday, which finished with a dashingly beautiful sunset.

A staged reentry was announced for Hatteras Island. Around 7:45 Saturday night, Priority 2 permanent residents and essential personnel for critical businesses were allowed on Hatteras Island. At noon Sunday, Priority Three reentry for non-resident property owners and employees of non-critical businesses were let onto Hatteras Island. As of noon, Tuesday, Sept. 10, visitors returned to the three northern villages on Hatteras Island.

At noon on Wednesday, Sept. 11, visitors will be welcomed in Avon and the northern part of Buxton. The visitors will be turned back at the Cape Hatteras Secondary School.

For areas below the Buxton school campus, Priority Three reentry remains in effect. Priority Three includes non-resident property owners and employees of non-critical businesses. 

Electric power lost and found

Hatteras Island lost electric power at 7:45 in the morning Friday, Sept. 6.

Three hours later, when the eye of the hurricane was passing over, Cape Hatteras Electric workers found a broken transmission pole between Avon and Salvo. The broken pole was a cause of the outage. Later a second broken pole was found.

With the Buxton generators running, Cape Hatteras Electric crews energized Buxton, the village and beach circuits in Hatteras and north Frisco. Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo were powered by the main transmission line from Oregon Inlet.

On Saturday morning, Lee Electric Construction crews arrived and worked to replace the two broken transmission poles between Avon and Salvo. The transmission lines were energized to the entire island 7:50 Saturday night.

On Sunday, the crews addressed about 200 scattered outages.

Cape Hatteras Electric workers and crews from Lee Electric Construction won accolades from Hatteras Islanders. Lee Electric workers, trained to work on both transmission and distribution lines, went to help Tideland Electric in Ocracoke. On Tuesday afternoon, Ocracoke switched on transmission power and turned off the island’s big generators.

Storm damages

Dare Schools Superintendent John Farrelly announced late Saturday that Cape Hatteras Secondary School suffered significant damage due to Hurricane Dorian. A portion of the roof over the gymnasium peeled off. At the campus athletic complex, the ticket booth floated into the parking lot and the press box collapsed. About one-third of the school is damaged, said Farrelly.

The estimated damage to Cape Hatteras Secondary School is $5,254,800.

He reported that many Dare County schools sustained more minor damage like roof shingles to be replaced. Those repairs will not prevent reopening.

All Dare schools were closed Monday, September 9 for all students and school staff. Cape Hatteras Secondary and Elementary Schools were closed on Tuesday, Sept. 10 with other schools in the district on a two-hour delay due to the torrential rain that poured down on Monday.

Dorian downed numerous trees Hatteras Pines where five inches of rain fell. The rainfall in Frisco was four and a third inches.

Some property owners report flooding levels in relation to previous storms. One Buxton business owner said Dorian’s flood waters were exactly between the levels for Emily and Matthew. Another reported six inches shy of Emily.

Estimated total damage from Dorian in all of Dare County is $14,754,644.

Recovery is underway

The Salvation Army’s mobile food kitchens are providing three meals a day at the Old PNC Bank in Buxton and Frisco Fire Department. Meal times are 8 a.m. for breakfast, noon for lunch, and 6 for dinner.

Call Dare County Department of Health and Human Services at 252-475-4196 if you or someone you know needs assistance. In areas of the county most impacted by the storm, relief workers will be in the field knocking on doors. Both the Frisco and Hatteras volunteer fire departments are operating as help stations with cleaning supplies and food and agency representatives.

Disaster relief information 

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is coordinating monetary donations, which are the greatest help to those in need. All donations are tax-deductible and 100 percent of all donations will be used to directly assist individuals and families in need. Donations can be made online at www.obcf.org/disaster or www.obxdisaster.org.



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Both campuses of Hyde County Schools sustained damage in Dorian