Story: “Goodnight, Irene, it’s time to go”

This blog was written by Kate Meier a Red Crosser who is currently deployed to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

I came to Kill Devil Hills three years ago for a good time at the beach.

Now, a hurricane warning and declared state disaster later, I’m here again, but this time, I’m waiting to see what Hurricane Irene is going to do.

I drove around the Outer Banks today, talking to residents about what they are doing to prepare. Many were boarding up their homes. Some spray-painted the boards with, “Goodnight, Irene. It’s time to go.”

Most told me, “I’m not going anywhere.”

Bob Brightbill and Kate Meier discuss plans for Hurricane Irene. American Red Cross/Chris Osborne

 

This is Bob Brightbill. He lives in Kill Devil Hills. He looked at me and said he’s waited out 110 mph winds before and he doesn’t evacuate – just like his brother, Eddie. Eddie has lived in the Outer Banks for 30 years and has never evacuated.

“This is just a Category Two – I don’t see any reason to leave,” Eddie told me as he boarded up his sister’s surf shop.

Despite calls for evacuations (though most aren’t mandatory), many local residents are saying this is a fire drill with no fire. A local builder told me code requires homes to be able to sustain 120 mph winds – so Irene “isn’t that much of a threat.”

The good news is that despite an unwillingness to leave, there is an overwhelming push for preparedness. Everyone we talked to was stocking up on emergency items – water, nonperishable food, batteries. I stopped at a local hardware store where they were sold out of gas cans.

“You’d be hard-pressed to find one anywhere around here,” said one store employee.

The Red Cross asks everyone to stay tuned to the weather and make a plan should they need to evacuate. For most in the Outer Banks today, this was old news – they knew the hurricane’s path just as well as anyone else, they have the evacuation route memorized and their disaster kits are stocked.

So now, we wait.

At a pharmacy, one employee said, “You Red Cross? Man, I don’t like seeing you here. That means it must be bad.”

“But ma’am, we have to be here,” I replied.
“And I’m glad you are,” she said.

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