Hurricane Dorian Hits North Carolina

Sep 6, 2019
Originally published on September 6, 2019 1:27 pm
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NOEL KING, HOST:

Hurricane Dorian is still threatening the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Overnight, it hit coastal areas with high winds and heavy rain. Emergency responders have been out surveying the damage since about dawn. NPR's Joel Rose is in Beaufort, N.C. That's on the southeastern coast of the state.

Hey, Joel.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Hey, Noel.

KING: So what is the weather like where you are?

ROSE: Well, there are still some pretty big gusts of wind, as you can maybe hear behind me...

KING: Yeah, I can.

ROSE: ...On the backside of the storm. But the rain has pretty much let up. Folks are starting to look around, even start to clean up a little bit. I spoke to the mayor of Beaufort this morning, Rett Newton. Here's what he told me.

RETT NEWTON: We've got downed power lines, downed trees. There is some damage. We're just not certain yet about the extent.

ROSE: From what I've seen, there are a lot of downed branches - not as many whole trees, but I have seen a few. The main issue is the power is out for many residents here and for other towns along this part of the coast.

KING: OK. And as the mayor said, it's hard to know what the extent of the damage is overall. But do we know which parts of that area got hit hardest?

ROSE: Yeah. This is still really being assessed. I mean, where I am right here, it doesn't look too bad. The roofs and windows of these houses look intact. I can see a sailboat out across the other side of the channel that got loose from its mooring and is now sort of on its side on the beach. But it seems like things around here could have been much, much worse.

That said, we know that there were some tornadoes that were associated with the - Dorian that touched down yesterday, including one in a beach town called Emerald Isle. That's a little bit to the west of here. Also, we're waiting to learn more about the communities to the east and on the Outer Banks - also on the opposite side of the Pamlico Sound from the Outer Banks, an area that's known as Down East. It's a string of low-lying towns that are pretty vulnerable to storm surge, and we're seeing early indications of some flooding over there.

KING: OK. Last year, Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina really hard. There was extensive flood damage. Is there a risk of that kind of thing with this storm?

ROSE: Well, the National Hurricane Center says there is still a risk of flash flooding. But this storm is really very different from Florence. It seems like the worst effects of Dorian were mostly felt at the coast. Florence stayed around for a much longer time, dumped a lot more rain than Dorian did further inland in the state at a time also when the ground was already pretty saturated with water. And all of that led to catastrophic flooding for inland communities, places like New Bern, N.C. There was some flooding this time in the low-lying parts of New Bern, but the folks that I talked to up there say they are pretty relieved. They think that they dodged the bullet this year.

KING: I know that is part of your assignment down there, you've been tracking where the storm is heading next. What's the path that it's on at this point?

ROSE: According to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center, it is heading out to sea over the Atlantic and on towards Nova Scotia. But the effects are still being felt, as you said, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina as far north as Virginia Beach. The danger now is that the winds have sort of reversed course. In the early part of the storm, they blow onshore. And once the eye of the storm is passed, they're now blowing offshore and pushing water back out toward the barrier islands. And that could lead to flooding sort of on the bay side of those islands. You know, communities on that side could be in for some major storm surge today still.

KING: All right. So you've talked to some folks who are relieved but also some people who probably haven't seen the worst of it yet. NPR's Joel Rose in Beaufort, N.C., tracking the path of the hurricane, Dorian.

Joel, thank you so much for your time.

ROSE: Hey, Noel. You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.