Local News

Stranded fisherman recounts tale of surviving Sandy

Posted October 31, 2012

— A Nash County man stranded on the coast for several days when Hurricane Sandy cut off his only escape route said Wednesday that preparation helped him and other fishermen survive the storm.

Dennis Joyner was part of a group of more than two dozen friends who went to Portsmouth Island last Wednesday for their annual fishing trip. They planned to stay until Saturday, but Cape Lookout National Seashore park rangers told them Thursday that they needed to leave because Sandy was approaching.

"We were trying to make reservations to get back to that ferry ahead of time," he said. "Unfortunately, so was everybody else."

The uninhabited island, which is south of Ocracoke Island, is accessible only by a private ferry, and Joyner said there wasn't enough time to evacuate the entire group because the ferry stopped running Friday as the waters of Pamlico Sound became more choppy.

"We chose to put the people on the ferry who really needed to get off, who wouldn't be able to wade through the storm," Joyner said. "It was a matter of doing the right thing."

One member of the group was diabetic, he said, and a few older members "were in panic mode to the point they were shaking."

Portsmouth Island Fishermen withstand Sandy on NC island

On Saturday, as Sandy began slamming the North Carolina coast with gusty winds and high waves, the 20 or so people who remained on the island awoke to a rush of sea water. Joyner said his friend's truck was already buried in sand and water outside their cabins.

"The wind constantly blew. It never died down for the entire period we were down there," he said.

Many vehicles on the island were destroyed, and the power to most of the cabins was shut off. But the group had packed plenty of food – Joyner called tins of beanie-weenies and bags of chips essentials for such trips – and they were able to hunker down and hold on until the private ferry was able to return them safely to the mainland Tuesday morning.

Joyner said he never felt that his life was in danger, but it was difficult to keep calm at times.

"You do count your blessings. You really do," he said, adding that the group will probably return to the coast next year.

"We all were saying we won't go back, but time heals wounds, so we will," he said. "People need to get away."

12 Comments

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  • btneast Nov 1, 3:45 p.m.

    Notification wasn't weak, evac response was weak. These people knew well in advance of the storm to evac.

    Huh, not according to the story. Says they began leaving as soon as the Rangers told them to Evac, but Evac was stopped before they could all get off. It is a slow and small car ferry.

  • superman Nov 1, 2:16 p.m.

    Dont have any sympathy for people who dont plan and try to get out of the way of the storm. They put the emergency resque people in danger because of their poor judgment and no planning. Since he didnt live there -- no reason for him to stay. He didnt know the storm was coming? Geez

  • Offshore Nov 1, 11:49 a.m.

    baldchip:"Say what you will about the NPS(NAZIS), they need to clean up their act as well. Sounds like notification was weak!!"

    Notification wasn't weak, evac response was weak. These people knew well in advance of the storm to evac. Poor planning on your part should not constitute an emergency on first responders part. Try taking responsibility for your actions. If these were seasoned North Carolinians, they should know to heed the warnings.

  • wildpig777 Nov 1, 11:29 a.m.

    i never ever caught many fish while on portsmouth island.

  • dsalter Nov 1, 11:19 a.m.

    Being born and raised in Pamlico County...and my dad was a commercial fisherman..we learned one thing. When a storm is threatening...albeit it days away...you simply do not wait until the last minute to prepare. Just do it.

  • baldchip Nov 1, 10:29 a.m.

    Jersey got hit HARD!! Portsmouth Island got hit hard. We've been there in NC, made it through, and have plenty of t-shirts as proof.

    I've been to PI many times. The ferry holds 7 trucks-if 2 are small. They hold 5 full size trucks. With that in mind, how many trips were necessary to empty the island?? Probably more than they could accomplish!

    Say what you will about the NPS(NAZIS), they need to clean up their act as well. Sounds like notification was weak!!

    Guys-I'm glad you made it out safely!!

  • rocket Nov 1, 9:50 a.m.

    "From what I heard, I don't believe the Park will allow this particular gentleman back next year...."

    What did you hear?

  • catwoman2 Nov 1, 8:09 a.m.

    Those that were staying at the cabins did turn the water and the electricity back on though so they were not there the entire time without it. From what I heard, I don't believe the Park will allow this particular gentleman back next year....

  • Dethklok Oct 31, 7:11 p.m.

    I was in Floyd. Lost everything.Including a friend. Water all the way in the attic. Pretty sure I know what it is like. Uhavenoclu = urnothingspecial. People are hurting everywhere.

  • dfdsharkman Oct 31, 7:07 p.m.

    I must have missed the part in the story where he compaired portsmouth to jersey, anyway good luck to you and your family.

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