Local News

Pamlico Communities Sort Through Isabel's Destruction

Posted September 19, 2003

— Hurricane Isabel caused significant damage in Pamlico County. Only property owners were being allowed on Kennels Beach on Friday, and much of Oriental was without power.

Among the owners of Kennels Beach property was a Raleigh family that went to check out the damage Isabel did to their home on the Neuse River.

Bonnie Williams looked a bit like a tourist, even though she had traveled that same road a thousand times. The long walk to her house gave her a chance to catch up with friends and understand what kind of damage the storm caused. When she finally got to her family hideaway, it took her breath away.

The Neuse River had swallowed much of the front yard. Isabel tore away the front porch.

Despite the damage, Williams said she felt pretty lucky.

"At least we have a home," she said.

Neighbors were not so lucky. Water and wind tore through homes, leaving little to salvage.

Even though not every house was damaged, practically every pier long Kennels Beach disappeared. In fact, one wound up in the Williams' backyard.

"We'll be picking up, sorting and separating for a while, I imagine," Williams said.

Meanwhile, as the sun came up on Oriental, it was clear Isabel had swept through the tiny fishing village. Boats stood tall. Trees fell hard. Refrigerators and propane tanks became lawn ornaments.

Officials hope to get most of Oriental's power restored by Monday.

"It was like a monster," Oriental resident Al Privette said of the storm. "It was like this thing coming at you."

Privette's house is in the middle of town. During Isabel's fury, it became an island.

"There were two-foot waves breaking right here," he said, looking down from his deck. "Two-foot waves."

At the height of the storm, Oriental was three to five feet deep in water. Friday was all about cleaning up.

It will probably a take days for folks in Oriental to completely dry out. It could take longer to forget about Isabel.

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