Will Ocracoke Island Be Destroyed By Hurricane Irene?

hurricane ireneOcracoke Island, a small barrier land mass that's part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, is in danger. Hurricane Irene is heading straight for the little guy, and residents have been told to evacuate. Irene's already wreaked havoc on Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, and Puerto Rico, and the National Weather Service is saying that she's only going to strengthen as she barrels down on the East Coast. Between yesterday's earthquake and this weekend's pending hurricane, it's been a tough week for the mid-Atlantic.

And poor Ocracoke Island. On the list of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, it's in the cross hairs of this category three storm. It's home to 800 permanent residents and thousands of summer vacationers, and it's only reachable by boat, which is making the evacuation process an interesting one.

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It's the first major storm for the exposed island in recent history, though it's always been in danger of destruction. Ocracoke has survived hurricanes in the past: In 1985 Gloria glazed the island, but fortunately took a turn north and missed a direct hit. Hurricane Floyd, a Cat 5, did a number on the sea islands of North Carolina back in 1999.

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Ocracoke Island
Irene may or may not do the same, it's too early to tell. As of now, federal emergency workers are heading to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to help prepare for the storm, and to help residents to get the heck out of town. This is all still precautionary of course; experts say that by tomorrow they'll have a better idea of Irene's path.

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Aerial view of Ocracoke Island
I grew up going to the Outer Banks. Every summer we'd back up the Dodge Caravan and drive four hours to Duck, North Carolina. And every summer, we'd take the ferry to Ocracoke. It's where my little sister fell on the stairs and got a huge black eye and it's where I first discovered a barbecue place that had sawdust on the floor -- an amazing novelty to an 8-year-old -- and it's where my sisters and I would play "don't step on the cracks something something break your mother's back" on the wooden dock.

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My sisters and me kicking it on the Outer Banks; me on the Ocracoke ferry
Ocracoke and the entire Outer Banks are home to a lot of fond family memories for me, as I'm sure it is for some many other people. I hope that bitch Irene spares the NC barrier islands and decides to go far out to sea. After what she's done to the Caribbean, I think she should call it a day. Spare the OBX!

Do you have any ties to the Outer Banks of North Carolina?

PS: I guess I really liked sun-jumpers back in the early '90s. Sue me. 


Photo via The Hurricane Center, Prxfshn/Flickr, bumeister1/Flickr

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