Irene's track recalls Isabel in 2003

Posted August 25, 2011 4:05 p.m. EDT
Updated April 11, 2018 10:22 a.m. EDT

— With Hurricane Irene tracking towards the Outer Banks, residents of North Carolina's eastern counties may be having flashbacks.

On Sept. 18, 2003, Hurricane Isabel, a strong Category 2 storm, made landfall between Ocracoke and Cape Lookout riding a wall of water six to eight feet high.

The storm carved a new inlet out of Hatteras Island and knocked out power to 1 million people along the East Coast.

"It looked like a bomb had hit Hatteras Island. It was a total wipe-out of Hatteras Village," said Stephen Hissy. The tackle shop he owned in Hatteras was destroyed, and the village was isolated.

It took two months and $3 million to restore travel along N.C. Highway 12.

"I lost my livelihood," he continued. "Not only was it a cultural shock, it was a sobering experience."

In Kitty Hawk, six houses were destroyed.

"They were washed away or damaged so bad they couldn't be repaired," said Bill Harris, who was mayor there at the time.

In Swan Quarter, the courthouse was flooded. It took months to clean up important documents and four years to rebuild.

"We spent $150,000 just getting files cleaned," said then-Hyde County Manager Don Davenport.