As the local owner of Kitty Hawk Watersports, I want to share some of the most important things I’ve learned about hurricanes while living on the Outer Banks.
1. Don’t Evacuate until the Last Minute
Not literally, but there’s no need to evacuate immediately when mandatory evacuations are announced (unless required by your hotel or house). The departing traffic will be extremely heavy and the lines at the gas stations will be long. For Hurricane Florence, the evacuation was to start on Tuesday, 9/11/18, at 7 a.m. We still had beautiful weather until Thursday morning. We could have left any time on Wednesday and would have experienced clear weather and open roads, not to mention easily accessible gas stations. In addition, waiting a little longer will allow you to make a more educated decision. When we initially saw the forecast for Hurricane Florence, we definitely thought we were going to evacuate. We waited as the storm approached and instead were able to stay put as Florence moved south away from our locale.
Figure 1: Here I am on the sound on 9/12/2018, 11:43 am. Hurricane Florence made landfall 36 hours later.
2. Fuel Up in Advance
Fill up the gas tank before the storm, even when you decide to stay. Obviously, you’ll need some fuel to evacuate, but you can get back to civilization on half a tank. The big lesson I learned from riding out Hurricane Matthew in 2016 was that gas pumps don’t work when the power goes out. I remember being exhausted after prepping for Matthew and told myself that I could just fill up my tank the day after the storm. Not so fast, speedy. The anxiety level went up a little as I drove from station to station, only to find them closed due to a huge power outage. Lesson learned.
3. Storms Are Hard on Business
It stinks to be a business owner when a hurricane is predicted to come near the Outer Banks. First, there’s the lost income of being shut down for an indefinite period of time. Second, the tourists don’t come flocking back immediately. The media, in their thirst to get eyeballs on televisions, may paint a colorful picture of mass devastation but not follow up with how quickly we may recover. Third, and finally, we rarely have the time or energy to enjoy the great surf that may be found either before or after the storm.
4. Supporting Local Businesses
We greatly appreciate your support and we couldn’t be here without our guests and visitors. Your patience and generosity are what keeps us going. That being said, Kitty Hawk Watersports gift certificates can be purchased online anytime of the year at https://www.kittyhawkwatersports.com/reservations/. Contact us at (252) 441-2756 to learn more.
We hope to see you in the future when the weather is nice.
John Van Lunen, Owner