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Monday, November 23, 2009
Updated: June 15, 11:34 AM ET
Storm Aftermath From Above


Highway 12 during the clean up of the nor'Ida ordeal.

It has been about one week since the water started to recede on the Outer Banks. And while perhaps not as immediate as shorebreak in your living room, the aftermath is still affecting island life.

The Outer Banks and Virginia sustained hurricane force wind gusts and a near historic storm surge, not to mention massive swell that helped swallow up that notable "hot spot" north of Rodanthe that we like to call S-Turns. That was one angry Atlantic Ocean.

According to the Island Free Press, a great resource for Hatteras Island news, Dare county alone saw $5.2 million in storm damages. Houses fell in the water in Nags Head and Kitty Hawk. Others were condemned.

During and immediately following the storm, 12 was closed to all traffic, leaving Hatteras and Ocracoke pretty much cut off from the mainland to the north. Obviously, food and fuel didn't get through either. The DOT had to implement a ferry system from Rodanthe to Stumpy Point.

Local charger, Brett Barley lives in Buxton. I spoke to him today, just after he drove past S-Turns. The road is open both ways.

"They fixed it retardedly fast," he said, "Two lanes, no sand on the road, and it's all repaved."

According to Barley, while towns to the north were getting slapped down Thursday, Buxton had some light winds and sunshine. They were essentially in the eye of the storm. Luckily, he went out and did some grocery shopping because once the road was closed supermarkets started running low on staples and the service stations almost ran out of gas. Joey Crum , down in Hatteras Village, moved all his belongings to the highest point in his Winnebego and got out as the water was rising.

The only way off the Island was the ferry at first. The first boat rescued stranded tourists and bought supplies. Almost every business was closed.

"It was really only two days that we were cut off," Barley reported, "It could have been much worse. I surfed every day. The wind never really went offshore but we got the Lighthouse and Frisco."

The highlight of the swell came on Saturday, when the entire community turned out to watch the swell peak at the Lighthouse. No one had ever seen it that big. It really wasn't rideable, but Barley was antsy and paddled out.

He swears he's never seen it that big inside the outer bars. It was just too chaotic to be ridden, (backwash, sidewaves, and rip) but he did see a set with 15 to 20-foot faces. And this is a guy whose job description includes surfing second reef Pipe.

S-Turns and several other hot spots, that continually wash over have caused a considerable amount of discussion about a long term solution. One option is to move Highway 12 to the west about 25 feet, which may not be as "long term" a solution as hoped.

The Dare County Board of Commissioners has excitedly announced that it will have two lanes of traffic open for the holiday weekend.

While some may lament the impending loss of this famous S-Turns and Nights in Rodanthe landmark, it's a testament to human folly.

In related news, the county has announced that "Serendipity ," the northernmost house on the Rodanthe beach front, made famous in Nights In Rodanthe, will have to be torn down or moved. Kind of a bummer, because you could sometimes line up with the back porch to get better rights at S-Turns, but it also makes you wonder, who builds a six bedroom house with hot tub and three TV's that close to the water? Gives new meaning to the term 'wet bar.'