Local News

Floyd Batters Emerald Isle, Oak Island

Posted September 16, 1999

— It will take a considerable amount of time for beaches along North Carolina's Crystal Coast to recover from the effects of Hurricane Floyd.

Video{Sky5's Aerial Tour of the N.C. Coast:Part 1|Part 2} In Emerald Isle, Floyd put the ocean on Ocean Drive. Debris litters the street and all of the beaches along the south side of the island.

The biggest story in Emerald Isle is the beach erosion -- 25-35 feet of the dunes are gone. Taking out that much beach spelled trouble for homes in the area; the storm surge crumbled decks and high winds peeled off roofs. Estimates show 154 homes in Emerald Isle alone suffered major damage.

David Rutlege considers himself one of the lucky ones, having only lost a section of steps to his home.

"The beach isn't going to be the same to people," he says. "The people come to the beach for the sand, that little strip of sand between the dunes and the water. It looks like a war zone now."

Donald Tilley of Orange County has seen the result of every hurricane to roll through Emerald Isle's east end for more than three decades. He believes Floyd may have been the worst.

"The oceanfront, to me, is the worst I've seen in 34 years here," says Tilley.

In Brunswick County, beachfront homes on Oak Island took a beating.

A crippled deck is all that is left of one Oak Island home -- a frightening image of Floyd's power.

High winds shoved the Ocean Crest Pier inland. Parts of the pier were found two miles down the beach. And, like a bulldozer, Floyd's winds knocked homes from their foundations.

On Caswell Beach, Floyd took out the road and turned homes into piles of splinters.

"When I was in the Navy, I saw steel rip away from steel from the water. So ripping these houses apart like tinder boxes was so easy ... God's power showing again," says resident Edward Strassberg.

This was one place where nothing stood a chance against the storm.

At Atlantic Beach, there are reports of mobile home toppled, and roofs off homes.

Topsail Island will not open to residents until Monday at the earliest because of damage there. Reporter: Cullen Browder


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