After taking care of business I wasn’t sure what else could be done in the dark. Just sit and wait? For what? Butch offered me a room at his apartment complex for the night so I could stay nearby and keep my eyeballs on things. This sounded like a good idea and I took him up on it. I went back home, grabbed some things, and called my manager, Dan McIsaac. In the event of possibly having to wade back in to the sound in the middle of the night I didn’t want to swim alone. We crashed at My Lagoon, at one point I awoke at 4:00 a.m. and decided to walk across the street and check on things. It was pretty calm now and I couldn’t tell if the water had receded or not, the debris was too thick and it was still dark out. I saw a Nags Head police car parked about a block away which made me feel better about possible looters. So I went back to bed.
At 6:00 a.m. I went back over to see how things looked. As I walked up ABC News was setting up in front of our driveway. Not a good sign. It seems the media is very opportunistic when it comes to getting the money shot of mass destruction. As the day wore on I spoke with several media members who all wished me well but none offered to pick up a shovel. No worries.
August 28th was pretty much just a day of assessment, brainstorming, and regrouping. We weighed options and thought of scenarios. I couldn’t get in touch with any insurance agents so I wasn’t sure what to do. Friends told me to take pictures or videotape everything so that’s what I did.
By the 29th we got staffers back on the site and we started getting waverunners reorganized. It was a gigantic mess but everyone was eager to help out. On the 30th Butch showed up with his bobcat and cleared the foot and a half of debris that covered the driveway, one-third of the parking lot, and one-fourth of the lawn between the two buildings. It took him almost one full day and it was a huge help.
In the end, what looked like mass destruction at Kitty Hawk Watersports really just boiled down to a huge mess. Boats are meant to float and they did so with success. The pier to the water got broken up in a few places but workers were able to piece it back together. Our workshop had 4-1/2 feet of water in it and several tools and parts were either ruined or lost but not one big valuable piece of equipment. The bumper boat pool had tons of debris in it, including minnows, and we decided to just shut it down for the season. We’ll deal with it in the spring.
If you’re not familiar with how the water moves on the Outer Banks perhaps I can give you a quick lesson. We are a barrier Island, essentially a giant sandbar. Between us and the mainland are sounds, which is just like a bay. They are very shallow and due to the fact that there are no wide openings to the ocean, are not affected by lunar tides. Water levels do, however, become affected by strong winds. Strong onshore winds will raise the water level of the sound in that area to greater heights. Conversely, strong offshore winds can push three feet of sound water all the way out to a point where you can stand on bare sand and find all the things that have been lost over the years.
What happens often and what happened furiously as Irene passed by is a rebound effect. If the water gets pushed out and the wind stops, the water returns with a little bit more. Imagine taking a bowl of water and swinging it side to side. When it goes from low it high the rebound wave is a bit bigger than the average height of a stationary bowl.
When it was blowing east at 50 mph as Irene approached, the waters at MP 16 receded to the point where you could walk where there was normally three feet of water and stand on bare sand. When the wind clocked around to the west it was bound to bring the water back and at 50 mph it was going to come back in a fury. There is conflict as to how long it took the water to come back but I believe it was about thirty minutes. In that thirty minutes it not only refilled the three feet of sound water but also added another six feet, approximately.
In the end, we weren’t as bad off as the people who had their homes ruined by the flood or the people on Hatteras Island whose lives were turned upside down for more than a month. We just lost some stuff and hopefully the customers will come back to help us recover the losses. Many thanks go out to my workers who came out in the mud and did a lot of heavy lifting. I also appreciate the well-wishers and personal friends who offered to come out and help clean up. The biggest thank-you goes out to Butch Stone. He was the first one there and was always ready to help. If you need a nice apartment to stay in on the Outer Banks please stop by My Lagoon. They have clean rooms with easy access to ocean, sound, shopping, and watersports. Check them out at www.mylagoon.net.