I am not trying to downplay the real risks of hurricanes, but I do try to bring a little bit of sanity to what can be an over-hyped situation. Having lived in or near the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia for over half of my adult life gives me some real life examples of where damage occurs.
We had not even moved into our new home in Roanoke, Va. in 1989 when the remnants of Hurricane Hugo dropped a tree onto the screened porch of our new home on Fairway View Trail. Years later another hurricane, the name of which I cannot remember, took down another huge poplar tree and destroyed a couple of glass tabletops on our deck over three hundred miles from the coast.
Since we have moved to the North Carolina coast, our friends in Halifax, Nova Scotia have actually seen more hurricane trouble than we have.
As I heard from a speaker yesterday, 70% of the damage from hurricanes occurs away from the North Carolina coast.
Still we never know when a bad one will hit the coast, so we take all storms seriously.
However, as anyone living on the coast will tell you, the best protection from storms and flooding is location, location, and location.
However, not living in a flood zone is no guarantee that you will not have water problems. We recently had some unbelievable weather in Carteret County.
In something under 24 hours, the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole combined with another low pressure system dumped over 20 inches of rain on much of Eastern North Carolina including Bluewater Cove where we live. Our four day rain total was just one quarter of inch short of two feet.
That is a lot of rain to drop into any watershed, especially a tidal one where the peak of the precipitation runoff happened to coincide with high tide.
We actually live in a flood zone. Our lot is actually the one below and to the left of the one with blue dot. With water almost at our back step, we are always aware of the water and its level. We carry flood insurance, and our home is built above the flood plain. However, we have seen what water can do, so we know living this close to the water carries some risk.
In the four years that we have lived on the coast, water had never risen above the floor of dock behind the house until Thursday, September 30, 2010.
The picture at the top of the post was taken around 3:30 PM that day. As was standing on the dock in a few inches of water, I was beginning to wonder just how high the flooding might get. Not long after that thought, the tide turned. Within a few minutes the water had dropped several inches and most of the dock was above water.
Other folks were not so lucky. I took this picture when I drove to check on a friend's home just off of Coast Guard Road. It shows some folks fetching their mail by kayak. This is the second straight year that the Coast Guard Road area on Emerald Isle has flooded. While none of it is life threatening, it certainly is a nuisance.
Certain folks, my wife included, are not fond of driving around in axle deep water. I actually went through some water near my friend's home that was up to the bottom of the door of my Nissan Titan 4X4 truck. A car or small SUV would not have made it through that pond.
That Friday we visited an area subdivision where I have a listing. We had to wait while the NC Department of Transportation folks fixed a road that had blown out because of the volume of rainfall. They were not the only folks who were stranded for a while.
I snapped this picture of a Labrador Retriever relaxing in a new lake in the subdivision. A number of homes there and elsewhere ended up with water in their lower levels.
So in looking back on the torrential rains of Tropical Storm Nicole, a little flooding was a good thing, because lots of folks got far more than a little flooding.
A week later some rivers inland from the coast are still above flood stage. Pumps are still running over along Coast Guard Road in Emerald Isle. We have moved on and are thoroughly enjoying the fall season.
West Firetower, the road to our subdivision, was closed briefly the evening of September 30 to anything but four wheel drive vehicles. Almost everyone was avoiding the roads then anyway.
Beyond that we had some silt in the water from collapsed silt fences on a new construction site next to us. I also had to shovel some gravel out of my front yard from a construction entrance which washed out and had no silt fence protection. All of that was exceptionally minor compared to what others have had to face.
All in all a little flooding was not a bad thing for us. It reinforced my belief that we moved to the right spot, and that we are somewhat protected from most storms. It renewed my respect for Mother Nature and gave me a new appreciation for the phrase "the tide is turning.
We will still be careful when storms head our way, but I will have a little more confidence that we can take a pretty big hit (over 20 inches of rain) and come out okay.