Once more, a major hurricane has put North Carolina through the wringer, pounding our coast and leaving behind a line of destruction and disrupted lives. Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks in particular was devastated over the weekend by the supercharged wind and waves generated by Hurricane Dorian.
Winds that had been as high as 155 mph when Dorian struck the Bahamas had weakened to about 90 mph by the time it reached our coast on Friday night, but that was still plenty strong enough to send “seawater surging over neighborhoods,” The Associated Press reported. More than a quarter-million residents and visitors had been ordered to evacuate the Outer Banks as Dorian approached, but some remained behind. Some were rescued by neighbors using boats. Many were forced to climb into the attics of their homes to escape the floodwaters. Three deaths associated with the hurricane were reported.
As of Sunday, some 800 were still on the island, and medics, rescue workers and other emergency responders were returning by boat or air to reach them. Damage surveys and clean-up operations had begun, Hyde County spokesman Donnie Shumate said, though there was still no power and no idea when it might be restored.
Residents said the damage was worse than anyone alive had seen.
The recovery will take some time and untold millions of dollars. “You can’t just get electricity and go back to work,” resident and restaurant owner Daphne Bennink told The Associated Press. “You have all this insulation and duct work that on most properties is going to have to get ripped out and redone.”
We appreciate the response to the threat of the hurricane from Gov. Roy Cooper, who declared a state of emergency on Aug. 30 and formally requested a federal declaration of emergency on Sept. 2. He spent much of last Friday with residents in Wilmington, where it was feared Dorian might hit what little was missed by 2018’s Hurricane Florence.
Our hearts go out to those who have lost their homes, possessions and perhaps their sense of safety because of this devastating act of nature. We urge all who can to donate to the Red Cross, the United Way and other organizations to help our neighbors get through this crisis. That’s what we do here; we help one another.
Before hitting our coast, Dorian caused even more damage in the Bahamas, where, as of Monday, 45 people were reported dead, more than 70,000 homeless and more still missing. Dorian made landfall over Nova Scotia over the weekend, where it blew the roofs off buildings and left hundreds of thousands without power.
When disaster strikes, the public relies on organizations like the National Weather Service to provide accurate, timely information, and it was helpful in this instance. President Trump’s insistence that Alabama was in danger, a claim that was outdated at best, and bolstered by a Sharpie-altered map, led to much ridicule. It could also have led to confusion and even danger for Alabama residents. Clear information is far more important to the public than the president’s ego.
Trump’s continued denial of the problem of climate change, especially in the face of growing evidence and continued reports from his own administration’s scientific organizations, is also problematic. We stand to suffer an increasing number of powerful weather events of this type — with low-income residents bearing the brunt of the damage — until the nation accepts its responsibility to mitigate the man-made causes and works with other countries to counter them.