Local News

Crabhouse keeps picking year after Hurricane Irene

Posted August 27, 2012

— Hurricane Irene flooded Carolina Seafood in Aurora with a 9-foot storm surge last August, closing the family business and leaving 60 people jobless in a county with an unemployment rate over 11.5 percent. No government aid came to help repair and reopen the business.

But that didn't stop the owner of the Beaufort County crab-processing company from picking up the pieces.

"You have somewhat a responsiblity to the community," Carolina Seafood owner Vance Henries. "It's not all about me. It's about other people and doing what's right for them."

Bogue Inlet pier Images of Irene

On Aug. 27, 2011, Category 1 Irene perched over North Carolina for more than 12 hours, pushing the storm surge farther inland than previous hurricanes. In all, it caused more than $1.2 billion in damage in more than a third of North Carolina's 100 counties.

Carolina Seafood was among the devastated homes and businesses.

"I just went to my knees and cried," Henries remembered seeing the damage for the first time. "Walls were busted in. We had trees, floating trees, that had come in like torpedoes and just took walls out."

A year later, the building has been repaired, and nearly 50 people are back at work for the crab-processing company.

Elsie Cradle said she's grateful to continue picking crabs, work she has done for 62 years.

Seafood business open year after Irene Seafood business open year after Irene

"It gives us something to do," Cradle said.

Challenges for the business remain. The crab harvest is smaller this year.

But after a tough year, Henries said he's proud to have rebuilt his business without taking a single dime in government aid.

"We take what we can get. I know the good Lord will provide for us," he said. "We'll stay right here as long as we can."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • jdiffenderfer Aug 27, 2012

    I am proud to work for Carolina Seafood!

  • boneymaroney13 Aug 27, 2012

    I think the guy at least needs a pat on the back.

  • boneymaroney13 Aug 27, 2012

    Wait a minute. Something is wrong with this picture. There's a company potentially moving to Durham that will create "19" jobs to which the company wants "incentives" to relocate or build. This guy put's 50 people to work and received what in assistance? NOTHING!!

  • jdupree Aug 27, 2012

    The owner took no-zero government assistance. This is one of those folks who Obama said "You did not build that business". Obama is not good for America. He wants everyone to settle for the "new normal" rather than working for the American Dream.

  • superman Aug 27, 2012

    Why is it that people just naturally assume that the government should help them. It is his business and I just dont see my tax money going to rebuild it for him. By the way I have never had any help from the government. If you choose not to have insurance its your problem.

  • jjsmith1973 Aug 27, 2012

    @crash247 it is very unlikely he didn't carry insurance. If the property was still mortgaged he would be required to carry it. If it was paid off then he could afford to carry it. No smart business is not going to protect his investment.

    @boneymaroney I have no idea where Bush's stimulus package money went or Obama's. Good question

  • NCredulous Aug 27, 2012

    I have the great good fortune of having known Mr. Henries and his father Etless. They, and the hardy souls like them are a solid anchor on an ever shifting shore. They rebuilt their business because their DNA would not allow them to do anything differently. But remember, they didn't do that alone. Nosiree.

  • North Carolina Cutie Aug 27, 2012

    He never said he didn't use his insurance maybe he didn't need help from the government

  • Scare Crow Aug 27, 2012

    thanks to Ken Smith for this story. Need more like 'em.

  • alwaysconcernedmom Aug 27, 2012

    Kudos for him for rebuilding and providing jobs for his neighbors! Too bad the people that were in katrina can't learn a lesson from this man!