We drove through the villages of Rodanthe, Salvo, and Waves, on Hatteras Island, the day before the last bulk pick-up of hurricane Irene debris. It was so sad.
These three villages were the hardest hit during the storm. The surge from the bay was reported to be up to 9 feet or more in some areas. The destruction is devastating.
Along the sides of Highway 12 were piles and piles of debris; wood, roof shingles, drywall, flooring, furniture, appliances, clothing, etc. They seemed to stretch for miles, one pile after another, with just two or three feet separating them. Many were 5 or six feet high. They were growing as we drove by, with people pulling debris from their trucks, trying to make the deadline.
The Salvo Day Use area was converted into a dump site to handle the debris. Because FEMA is paying for the cleanup, the regular dump could not be used, to keep the emergency finances correct. It was horrible is see how much debris had thus far been collected.
We saw a few boats and campers destroyed beyond repair. These were also on the side of Highway 12.
Some homes looked to be beyond repair or the owners can’t afford the repairs. Many older houses on the bay side of the island are at ground level or just a few feet off the ground. Most that were damaged were still in the process of being repaired. Tarps were covering some windows or doors or roofs. Pickup trucks containing building supplies were parked in driveways.
On the ocean side of Mirlo Beach, there are a few condemned houses, as outside stairways have been washed away. It was determined that the pounding ocean has made them unsafe. On the bay side, there are houses sitting like islands that can’t be reached because they are still completely surrounded by water.
We were lucky. We only had several hundred dollars worth of damage. We also have wind insurance and flood insurance. Those long time residents, who own their homes outright, may not have this coverage. It is expensive and if you live on a low, fixed income, it is probably not affordable.
I don’t know if there is flood or wind insurance for boats and campers. There were many campers left in campgrounds during Irene, that were washed out to the ocean’s edge. Small boats had broken from their moorings or off of their trailers and were tossed about like toys.
It made my heart ache to see how the ravages of Mother Nature has affected our island neighbors. But they are a strong, determined people. They will recover and go on with life until the next major hurricane hits.
It’s all a part of island living. And for those of us who live there, whether permanently or part-time, it’s worth it.