Saturday, September 3, 2011
battered by Irene
I made an early morning drive down through the coastal plain of North Carolina yesterday. The same route I take when I'm going sailing down there, but this time I did not have Spartina in tow. I was going down to check Shawn, my friend the runs Pate Boat Yard in Hobucken on Goose Creek Island.
Last Saturday, just as the eye of Irene had moved north and seemed to stall over the upper part of Pamlico Sound, I was at the working harbor in Avon on Hatteras Island talking with the the local watermen. The southeast wind, which had been blowing for hours, had pushed all the water away from Hatteras Island leaving nothing but mudflats to the west for as far as the eye could see. That water had to go somewhere. "Where" I asked. "I'm worried about Hobucken" said one of the fisherman.
He was right to be worried about Hobucken. It was flooded. As were parts of New Bern, Oriental, Stumpy Point, Manteo, Swan Quarter, Vandemere and countless other small towns on the western shore. Irene was a devastating storm for many communities in Coastal Carolina.
With an extra day off I drove down to Hobucken to check on Shawn and see if I could help out. There is Shawn below, in the main building at the boat yard. That line on the door to the left marks the high point of the water during the flood. That mark is about five and a half feet above the floor, flood waters must have been eight or nine feet high.
A quick drive around the island confirmed the obvious - just about every home on the island had been damaged by the flood. People had their doors open airing out the houses, damaged belongings were piled beside the road. FEMA, the Red Cross and Salvation Army were attempting to provide relief.
There wasn't much I could do. I dropped off some bottles of bleach and eight-packs of gatorade with Shawn, then took more bleach, drinks and extra clothes from my daughters and dropped that at the community center. From there it was back to the boat yard where I met up with Shawn again.
Shawn, his friends on the island and folks up and down the coast have a lot of work to do over the next few months. People have asked me what it is like to be in a place hit by a hurricane. The hurricane, I tell them, is bad; the days, weeks and months after a hurricane can be worse.
Shawn seems to have the right outlook for dealing with all this. He talked about the storm, talked about figuring out what needs to be done. Damaged boats, ruined clothes, electronics soaked in salt water. Saturated wooden floors, soaked insulation and drywall. Where do you live when your house has been flooded? How do you find some sense of normalcy when everything is coated in mud? This is not a short term job and Shawn is still trying to get his mind around the enormity of the task before he jumps into it.
I suspect a lot of friends, small boat people that Shawn has helped out over the years, will want to pitch in where they can. As for Shawn, the storm battered his home and business but I don't think it changed him too much. He was already talking about planning a big party this fall to celebrate getting life back to normal.
Shawn, if you need any help you know where to call.