Wanchese fisherman expects losses in Irene's wake

Posted August 30, 2011

— For fishermen on the Outer Banks, the sea and sound are not just a vacation destination or a beautiful patio view, they are a way of life. In communities like Wanchese that rely on the commercial fishing industry, that way of life has been threatened by Hurricane Irene.

Larry Ballance, a lifelong Wanchese resident, works in construction and commercial fishing. He said he hasn't taken his boat out since Irene hit because he's afraid of hitting floating debris or the roots from swamp and marsh grasses. Both could cause expensive damage to his fishing boat.

"This will cease our fishing mostly in the sound until our waters can settle down and level off," Ballance said Tuesday.

He's also worried that the fish themselves were washed away in the storm. It could take two weeks before he's back on his boat, he said.

"You lose your job for two weeks, I mean, it's a big loss," he said. "To some, it can be devastating."

Wanchese fishing boat Irene threatens Wanchese way of life

But he's not dwelling on the hardship, he said, and he's certainly got plenty of clean-up work to keep him busy on land.

"One day at a time. That's the way we live," Ballance said. "We deal with storms. We live near the Atlantic Ocean and it's a way of life."

While he's not on the water, Ballance and his wife, Carletta, are taking care of neighbors and helping out where they can.

"This whole Lane is family and what one person won't do, the other will do for you," Carletta Ballance said, referring to a road called The Lane that intersects N.C. Highway 345 in two places.

Nearby, Ken Davenport was cleaning up Tuesday from the muddy mess left behind when chest-deep water flooded his wife's childhood home. The mud, he said, is a mix of raw sewage and diesel fuel that left sediment throughout the house.

Davenport, who is a pastor in Zebulon, said the house has withstood storms since 1952, but Irene was different.

"This was a hundred year storm," he said. "We're happy to be alive (and) I'm glad my family was kept safe."


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  • stcards Sep 1, 2011

    I'll tell you what nighttrain 2010,
    "fisherman Larry" will not be applying for any type of assistance! If you knew anything about the Outer Banks or Wanchese, you know they are HONEST hard working people who depend on themselves. And if it makes you feel any better, his insurance company will not even pay for the damages the storm caused to his boats and house! SLEEP ON THAT!

  • Soundguy Aug 31, 2011

    I do a lot of fishing off the outer banks and had a chance to meet many of the locals in and around the Wanchese area over the years. Commericial fishing is a tough business. They are some of the hardest working yet kind hearted people all of North Carolina has to offer so show a little consideration towards them. One thing is for sure that they won't tuck tail and run like so many here. They will repair and keep doing what they always have which is work harder that many of you will ever know!

  • jblake1932 Aug 31, 2011

    Two weeks out of work is better than two months or even two years!

  • Garnerwolf1 Aug 31, 2011

    jblake: thanks for restoring my faith in humankind. Refreshing to know the ole "I don't care as long as it doesn't happen to me" mindset is alive and well. He may be right in terms of the path being a 100 year storm. The really scary thing is that, for a hurricane, this was a relative baby. 30 years ago, geology professors were saying we were long overdue for the 'big one'. Still hasn't happened. Hope it doesn't cause if it does, beachfront might currently be farmland outside of Kinston.

  • ICTrue Aug 31, 2011

    I come from a long line of commercial fisherman. It's a tough way to make a living and they all knew that. Everything is seasonal and more and more regulated. Storms are just another part of the equation. Any fisherman who relies solely on fishing for his income will soon starve to death.

  • jblake1932 Aug 31, 2011

    YAWN! These storms have the same impact every year! YAWN!

  • Shamrock Aug 31, 2011

    "We all got losses from it Fisherman Bob. Deal with it."

    It is hard to believe that there are people in our world that do not care about others, and actually take the time to beat those down that got hit the hardest. Yes it was only cat 1, but the flooding in the low areas is terrible. You should just be happy you got out unscathed. Those that were here in 1996 clearly remember Fran. Mean responses to come...wait for it...wait....

  • nighttrain2010 Aug 31, 2011

    >>Show a little compassion if you are able. I have questions about that. - Honesty first

    Sure I'll show compassion. Right up to the point that Fisherman Larry files for some sort of 'assistance' and starts picking my pocket. Fisherman Larry and all the rest need to understand hurricanes have been hitting our coast far longer than the federal government has even been in existence. 100 years ago Fisherman Larry's ancestors would have sucked it up, dealt with it, and gone about their lives.

    But 100 years ago we didn't have the 'caring' federal government to redistribute wealth to those in 'need' did we.....

    >>"This was a hundred year storm," he said. "We're happy to be alive (and) I'm glad my family was kept safe."

    Sorry Pastor Dave it wasn't. 11 Category 3 hurricanes have hit our coast in the past 100 years. I'm glad you're alive and well but all this hurricane has been is hyperbole

  • nascarguy Aug 31, 2011

    This fisherman understands and accepts the risks..."One day at a time. That's the way we live," Ballance said. "We deal with storms. We live near the Atlantic Ocean and it's a way of life."

    That's all. No news here really despite the drama trying to be created.

  • superman Aug 31, 2011

    Extreme weather makes it difficult for all of us. If all he lost was two weeks of fishing he is lucky. Should be plenty of work in construction for him.