ISABEL - Storm of 2003 September 19, 2003 The Beaufort News Worker Killed Trying to Fix Power Hurricane Isabel claimed the life of one person and flooded hundreds of homes as she swept across Carteret County midday Thursday. Harold T. Anderson Jr., a veteran crew leader for Carteret Craven Electric Cooperative (CCEC) was killed at a power company substation near Newport while working to restore power after the storm. Mr. Anderson, a 29-year CCEC employee from Salter Path, was making repairs inside the substation when the accident occurred. “We are devastated by this,” said Craig Conrad, CCEC executive vice president and general manager. “Harold was more than an employee. He was a great husband to his wife and outstanding father to his children and a good friend to all of us here. Something like this makes us realize just how precious life is.” Flood and wind down east – Damage assessment teams were up at dawn today, ready to take a look and talk to people in the eastern part of the county and in South River, where Isabel’s storm surge left hundreds of flooded homes in her wake. “I think there are going to be 400 or 500 houses with flood damage,” said Carteret County Emergency management Director Mike Addertion. Also ready this morning were teams equipped with food and supplies to help those residents and other who suffered the brunt of the storm. “We are concentrating on feeding resources and getting some basic needs out to the hard hit communities,” Mr. Addertion said.
Down east residents endured the worst as the storm passed overhead, packing gusts above 100 mph to Cedar Island. “It was the ’33 storm all over again,” said Karen Amspacher, Core Sound Waterfowl Museum director and Marshallberg resident. Museum access was cut off to vehicles, but Mrs. Amspacher waded out with a lantern Thursday night to assess any damage in the museum. While storm waters surrounded the site, the structure itself escaped flooding, emerging with some torn shingles. But not so in Marshallberg, and other communities. “Flood waters were in the homes from Davis shores east,” she said and urged church crews and aide agencies to help those residents. Ashley Cooper, American Red Cross coordinator for disaster volunteers, said the Red Cross was preparing to move shelter operations down east. We will be taking over the shelter at Atlantic and we are looking for another site to set up down east,” she said. She urged anyone needing help to call 1-866-GETINFO. Mr. Addertion said down east took a huge hit. “There was a research truck from a university that had set up at Cedar Island, and they said they got 110 mph gusts,” Mr. Addertion said. “You could see the eye wall cross Core Banks and see it cross the mainland, and that’s when the phone calls started coming in,” Mr. Addertion said last night. “We talked to people in Cedar Island, and they said there was water in many of the houses, but they did not report any injuries.” Property along the shoreline in Atlantic and Sea level also was flooded.
“The Sea Level rescue building had water inside, and at one point there were white caps, breaking in the equipment bay,” Mr. Addertion said. Volunteers and staff at the fire and EMS department in Sea Level and neighboring communities stepped up to the challenge of the storm. “They had about 45 minutes down east when it got calm, and the fire departments were able to come out, check on people and move some people before the winds came back around,” Mr. Addertion said. In Sea level they got access to a six-ton military truck and were going around to neighbors asking people if they wanted a ride to the shelter at Atlantic School. Because of power outages, loss of phone service and flooded roads, emergency management officials were unable to find out what was happening in some of the other down east commun8ities. Residents of Davis reported extremely high water and flood damage to homes, cars and other property. Marshallberg and Gloucester were hit by the storm surge as well but flooding there prevented damage assessment teams from taking a look last night. “Yesterday, the tide was higher here on the same property lot, but a different house, than it was when my grandmamma witnessed the ’33 storm,” said Davis resident Ed Pond. “The wind didn’t get worse after noon, maybe max of 100 from the north, but the tide continued even after the hurricane was subsiding, and it rose to 27 inches in my garage.” Mr. Pond said he lost two cars and a pickup truck, utility vehicles, tools, lawn tractors and other items in his yard and barns. Water didn’t get into his house, but it did damage the lower water pump, ducts, the ranger blower motor and “hundred” of antique tools sitting now in wooden tool boxes full of saltwater, he said.
Beaufort firefighters dispatched a rescue boat, and Emerald Isle was sending its surf fescue boats when officials got word via cell phone that everyone was okay. Mill Creek also suffered extensive road flooding but assessments from that community had not been complete at press time. Dozens of neighbors to the north just over the county line in Harlowe lost their homes by high wind, falling trees or flooding. Many were trapped when the water began to rise. “According to the state emergency management computer, about 130 people were trapped in the Harlowe area,” Mr. Addertion said. “The state had pre-positioned some water rescue teams from the west, and they sent water rescue teams from Charlotte and Craven County out.” “They had to motor up to people’s houses, pick them up and take them to higher ground.” Harlowe Fire Chief Jeremy Brown estimated that 30 to 40 homes were destroyed and another 200 were flooded. Western Carteret – Damage in the eastern half of the county was a striking contrast to western Carteret County, where high winds did little more than topple some trees, knock out power lines and blow shingles and siding off of homes. “It just shows how geography is important in our county,” Mr. Addertion said. “We have major damage in one end of the county, and minimal damage in the west, which is the reverse of what happened with hurricanes Fran and Bertha in 1996. “I’m pretty pleased at how quickly the unaffected towns called in and started volunteering to head down east and help them.”
Western Carteret Fire and EMS Chief Jim Broadus was preparing his department to do just that Thursday evening after his department finished making the rounds in its district. The department answered a couple of fire and EMS calls during the storm, but besides those, Isabel proved uneventful for towns such as Cedar Point, Peletier and Cape Carteret, he said. Bogue Banks – Meanwhile, island towns were giving thanks Thursday afternoon for the slight damage Isabel left in her wake. Bogue Banks officials agreed to open the Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle bridges at 6 p.m., giving full access to the public after hazard assessment teams deemed the island safe for re-entry. “There’s virtually no damage in town,” Emerald Isle Town Manager Frank Rush said, pointing out that power was never lost at town hall. “There are downed trees here and there.” The maximum wind gust recorded at town hall was 65 miles per hour, Mr. Rush said, while sustained winds fell between 30 and 55 miles per hour. In past storms, Emerald Isle has been hit hard, but Isabel, Mr. Rush’s first storm in Emerald Isle, took a different track. The town’s recently nourished beaches did their job of protecting oceanfront structures and little sand was lost to the crashing surf, Mr. Rush said. “Everything so far looks wonder,” he said. Indian Beach Mayor William “Buck” Fugate said his town’s nourished shoreline looked the same post-storm as it did before the storm hit. Pete Allen spent two nights in town before going home to Emerald Isle to sleep Thursday night.
He said this morning the town fared remarkably well, both in terms of structural damage and beach erosion. “We had the roof blow off the Budget Inn (215 W. Fort Macon Road) and the roof came off a house on Moonlight Drive, but that was the worst we’ve seen so far,” he said. “We also suffered some damage at our public works building (right behind the town hall).” Mr. Allen added. “The wind blew in those two big roll up doors.” Town staff went to a few areas on the beach Thursday afternoon and saw very little erosion, probably because of the fact that Bogue Banks – unlike any other barrier island along the southern portion of the East Coast – faces south, not east. There was some serious flooding in Atlantic Beach, but it was confined to locations that always flood. The worst problem, as always, was centered at the intersection of Wilson Avenue and East Terminal Drive, which is essentially the low point of a large basin that collects water from a large section of the eastern part of town. Water was inside several houses, but they were unoccupied. There also were huge collections of rainwater at two points on Charlotte Avenue, covering one entire lot and making the street impassable for a time just south of its intersection with West Terminal Boulevard. Beaufort, Morehead City and Newport – The heart of the county didn’t go unscathed. Downed power lines, sporadic road flooding and trees blocking roadways were reported from Beaufort through Morehead City to Newport and along Highway 24 to the west.
“We had a lot of trees down, but the roads weren’t blocked for long” Mr. Addertion said. Things were back to business as usual in Beaufort this morning, with town employees reporting to work at 10 am. And garbage pickup operating on a regular schedule. Town Manager Terri Parker-Eakes said the town sustained no major damage with mainly downed trees and limbs causing the usual headaches. Power was off for only a short time yesterday. “The only word to describe it is blessed. We were very blessed,” she said. The town will pick up storm debris on Monday. Morehead City Manager Randy Martin said he and the staff did a general survey of the county’s largest municipality late Thursday saw far fewer problems than expected. “I don’t want to downplay any of the problems I know some of our neighbors had, but we feel very fortunate,” he said. “I think the big thing was that the hurricanes of the ‘90s took out many of the trees that would maybe have fallen this time, and a lot of people on their own pruned off dead branches and removed dead trees from their property.” “Because of that, obviously, we had far fewer problems with trees hitting power lines, so while we did have outages all over the city, the crews, and I want to praise them for the great work they did, were able to get power restored much quicker this time.” “We had only a few pockets left in the city limits without power last night at dark, and we’re going to check on those this morning and make Progress Energy and Carteret-Craven aware of any areas where power hasn’t been restored.