Hurricanes

Authorities tell people to leave Oak Island, declaring much of it unsafe after Isaias

Posted August 4, 2020 5:54 p.m. EDT
Updated August 6, 2020 11:42 a.m. EDT

— Brunswick County authorities cut utilities to much of Oak Island on Tuesday and asked people to leave the area after Hurricane Isaias roared through the barrier island late Monday.

The storm surge pushed water though the bottoms of beachfront homes and buried several streets in feet of sand. Authorities said many structures aren't safe to stay in, so they want people to leave for now.

A mandatory evacuation order for visitors and residents on the western half of the island takes effect at noon Wednesday, and a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will remain in effect for the entire island until further notice.

Katie Allen stayed in the house her family has owned on Oak Island since the 1960s until she heard it breaking apart at the height of the storm.

"I was there until pretty late, sitting in the bathtub with the lights out, with a bottle of water and my go bag," Allen said. "I'm so glad that I did get out. When I looked back at the house when I left around midnight and saw how much had already been [damaged], I was very upset and emotional."

She stayed with a neighbor and awoke to find that Isaias had washed her car away.

"[It] was banked up against this piling" under a house across the street, she said.

The car was towed away Tuesday afternoon, and Allen said she believes it's a total loss.

Derrick Palecek of Raleigh stayed at his family's vacation home on the island through the storm and said he was stunned at the devastation he saw Tuesday morning.

"I've never seen anything like this. It's the first hurricane I've ever been through. It was eye-opening to me," said Palacek, who shot drone video of the island and shared it online.

"A lot of people were already up just walking around, and it was immediate cleanup," he said. "It was 'Let's help this person dig their car out.'"

He said the hurricane experience was a one-time thing for him.

"I wouldn't do it again," he said. "It was very alarming how big just a Category 1 [hurricane] was."

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