September 16, 2018

A Small, Category 2 Hurricane When it Came Ashore (UPDATED)

Here in most of Hampton Roads, Hurricane Florence brought grey skies, some gusts and intermittent rain.  At the state line on the coast around Pungo and Bellhaven however, the storm's effects got rather worse. Farther south still, it is, as most of you know an ongoing disaster of the first order.

My parents live just outside of Morehead City, on high ground in a little town called Newport. The other night they decamped to my sisters house in Ahoskie (well inland) and awaited the storm's passing. 

Now Florence came ashore just south of Morehead, which means that city was in the storm's dangerous quadrant, bearing the brunt of the winds and surge. News reports indicated that damage was about as bad as one would expect with the addition that a couple of tornados had swept through the area, one sweeping through the middle of the town.

Yesterday afternoon I was informed by my sister that since the storm had passed south..."They've gone to Morehead". I started to head down there, but I was then informed that it was no longer possible to get there from here.

Then she explained...

When they arrived they discovered that despite many trees  being down on their property in the woods, the house was completely undamaged. There was no power and there was some standing water near the barn, which in the 40+ years the family owned the property has never happened. The barn is well down the hill though. A little outbuilding along the driveway which was  full of family heirlooms, holiday ornaments, and such was also undamaged. So there was considerable cause for joy. Likewise, a nearby trailer park had had almost all the trees go down, but miss every single trailer. The inhabitants had comer over from the shelter across the bridge and were cleaning up their yards but there was no crisis. My uncle was not so lucky, having had a tree go through his roof, but my dad helped him get the tree out and the hole covered to keep out the intensifying rain.  The rain got quite torrential, despite the storm having passed (there was virtually no wind at this point). They went back across town to their house and set up the generator to keep the freezers cold and run the water pump. Shortly after they finished that, Dad noted 4 feet of water at the barn...all the power tools were in danger. My dad ran down to the barn, but by the time he got there it was six feet deep, so the, power tools were not going to be saved, he started back and discovered that the clumps of what appeared to be peat moss floating, were, in fact, Brazilian Fire ants doing their amazing water thing. Trying desperately to get the invasive flesh eating, venomous annoyances off of him he found he was suddenly, literally, over his head and swam to the johnboat which was floating off its trailer, He unfastened it and discovered as he crawled in it that it was full of...more fire ants. He abandoned the johnboat to the chitinous corsairs and it drifted off into the forest carrying its payload of pain. He swam back where he had moments before been able to wade, holding onto trees against the accelerating current and finally got back to the house, washed off, applied iodine and alcohol, and took benadryl. Soon, the water was up to the barns roof. The shack with the Christmas stuff was half under ant water. It was shortly after this that they called my sister and informed her that there were so many trees down, that they could see all the way to the bridge over the Newport River...or at least where the road entered the river where the bridge had just been. 

They are cut off, the bridge is out, they're on what amounts to a temporary island now and the water was three feet from the garage when they called my sister. 

A little while later, my Mom called and informed me that all the roads going through New Bern and to Moorehead were now closed. I also found out that the "They" that my sister had been talking about was my Dad and Brother in Mom is still with my sister, which is a big relief.

Anyway, both of them seem to be OK, but it looks like Mom and Dad are going to loose everything. The water rose rose unbelievably fast and well above what it had been before the storm proper had moved on. 

The damage came not from the wind or the storm surge, but the rain on the back end of the storm, which raised the Newport River to levels it has never been. They lost everything a full day after the storm had passed, there was no wind to speak of according to Dad, and lots of unsuspecting people were coming out to clean up, when a flood of 300 years hit. 

I'll be heading down there as soon as the roads are open again.

Blogging will be on hiatus for a bit.

UPDATE: They're both back at my sister's. Dad's bandaged and puffed up like a balloon from the fire ants. The water is reportedly still rising. We will likely be going down there tomorrow or Tuesday to clean up and see if their  boat survived.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 07:03 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 Stay safe, man. My brother got hit by a fire ant clump once, wasn't pleasant for him at all, at all.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Sun Sep 16 17:23:08 2018 (v29Tn)

2 Ah, hell.  Stay safe, and your folks too.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sun Sep 16 19:24:47 2018 (PiXy!)

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