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Memories of Dennis, Floyd Still Fresh as Outerbanks Recover

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DARE COUNTY — The year 1999 will be one that residents of Eastern North Carolina will not soon forget.

It has been two long months since the North Carolina coast was pounded by heavy winds and rains from Hurricane Dennis, and Eastern North Carolina destroyed by flooding associating with Hurricane Floyd.

All together, Dennis and Floyd cost the state at least $16 million in property damage, and damaged more than 2,600 properties in Dare County alone.

While the two unwelcomed visitors did their share of property damage -- it is the sand dunes that really took a hit. In terms of dollars, the Town of Nags Head alone lost more in sand than the entire county did in property.

"The sand in the parking lot here at the Lighthouse View Hotel is four to six feet deep, and deeper in spots," says tourist John Tesh.

That is the thing about hurricanes. They push the sand where it does not belong, and they take it away from where it is needed: the beach.

On the Outerbanks, Hurricane Dennis did far more damage than Floyd, simply because it would not go away. Dennis pounded the Outerbanks off and on for a week.

It was Dennis that also tore through Highway 12, the Outerbanks' main roadway. A huge chunk of the road was destroyed by the wind and rain, but engineers rebuilt and relocated the section.

"I think it's pretty awesome," says tourist Joan Wood. "I'm glad they put it back so that we could continue to come down here."

It is the ocean that brings the tourists to the coast -- the ocean that can easily turn angry. And that threat is always there, simmering below the surface.

The Outerbanks are, for the most part, done with Dennis and Floyd, but there's always the next hurricane.

"It's just a force of nature," says one tourist. "There's nothing you can do about, there's nothing that's going to stop it."

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Scott Mason, Reporter
Chad Flowers, Photographer
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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