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Clarion Native Affected by Hurricane Florence
FRISCO, North Carolina (EYT) – Although Clarion may be a distance from the coastal areas taking the brunt of this fall’s tropical storms, some former Clarion natives found themselves in the path of nature’s most recent force of destruction, Hurricane Florence.
Branden Kadunce, who is a Clarion native, and his girlfriend, Amber Roth, who lived in Clarion while attending Clarion University, have been living in Frisco, a small town on Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks area of North Carolina, for the last decade.
Having lived on the island for so long, Hurricane Florence isn’t their first brush with a monster storm. Their home was seriously damaged by the flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew two years ago.
Kadunce told exploreClarion.com., “Matthew was kind of a surprise because we hadn’t had flooding like that in this area since we’d been here. Even our landlord, who has been here a lot longer, hadn’t seen flooding like that,”
The house Kadunce and Roth live in was flooded by two feet of water during the storm, causing them to have to remodel the entire first floor after the storm.
Kadunce said that the remodeling then brought its own special challenges.
“Our house in insane because it is so old, it has been pieced together over the years. There were walls inside the walls, and stairs under the stairs. It’s one of the original houses, where the two by fours are literally two by four inches, and it had the old cut nails holding the floor down. It was definitely an experience.”
Though Hurricane Matthew was one of the worst storms they’ve weathered, Kadunce and Roth have been through several others in the almost eleven years they’ve been living on Hatteras Island.
“We haven’t left for a storm yet,” Kadunce noted. “It’s one of those things, I personally like to stay because if something happens we can fix it immediately.”
Kadunce said that during Hurrican Matthew, there were items in their home that they were able to move and save as the water came in that they wouldn’t have taken time to move if they’d evacuated. They were also able to start cleaning up as soon as the water receded, mitigating some of the damage that would have been worse if the house had sat vacant while they tried to return from an evacuation.
He also explained that pet owners face the additional challenge of figuring out how to transport and house their pets during an evacuation. Kadunce and Roth have three cats and three snakes, which adds an extra dimension to packing up and evacuating safely, especially when evacuees do not know how soon they’ll be able to return home.
“There have been times the roads have washed out and people couldn’t get back for five or six days or even longer, up to two weeks at one time,” he said.
Though he prefers to ride out storms whenever possible, he does admit that the size and power of the storm still plays into his decision making process.
“A cat four is scary, and I don’t know if we’d stay for that or not.”
He also noted that this time around, the evacuation order was put into effect far earlier than in previous storms.
“We do have a new governor, and he called the evac a lot sooner than our previous governor. We normally make it to the top disaster areas because people get stuck here.”
“I think the biggest thing is because we are a tourist area they wanted to get people off the island just in case the worst did happen. Even now, if we had double the people we have, I don’t know if the island could support that. They were a lot better prepared this time than for some of the past storms.”
Though Florence made landfall further to the north of their area than expected, Hatteras Island and the surrounding area was still feeling some of the effects.
Highway 12, heading north, began taking overwash of the dunes at the “S” curves near Rodanthe on Thursday. As of Friday evening, it remained closed due to water and debris on the roadway.
Kadunce and Roth traveled north earlier in the week to stock up on supplies and pet food under the looming uncertainty of storm, unsure how long they might be trapped on the island if the storm caused the kind of havoc they’d seen before.
“I think we sat in traffic for two hours. Half of the gas stations were out of regular and mid-grade gas, and some were already out of gas completely,” Kadunce said.
He also noted that the gas situation and the traffic became worse as the week progressed, especially as the overwash issues began on Highway 12.
“They were running out of gas at most of the gas stations, and a bit of overwash north of us was causing traffic to back up about five miles.”
Local residents, aware of the kind of issues a storm could bring, began battening down for whatever Florence might bring them, even moving their vehicles, leaving an entire line of cars and trucks parked on the slightly higher ground along Park Road near the Billy Mitchell Airport.
As the storm made landfall further to the north, the residents of Hatteras Island didn’t see the worst of the effects.
“We just had some high winds. We only lost power in our particular area for about twenty minutes. It went off, and they got it back on really quickly.”
Though the island escaped the brunt of the storm, with no sound side flooding and no serious power outages, as of Saturday morning, it remains closed off from the mainland until roads and bridges can be inspected. Highway 12 still remained flooded in some areas where waves broke through eight-foot dunes and deposited soft sand and up to two feet of water.
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