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A Year Later, Coastal Residents Plan to Steer Clear of Next Fran

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TOPSAIL ISLAND — So where were you during Fran? It's hardnotto rememberwaking up the next morning to the destruction. The infamous hurricane hitNorth Carolina a year ago September 6th. The question now; what did welearn?

One of the toughest jobs for the police and emergency workers is convincingpeople to leave when an evacuation order is given. But now, as thememories of Fran still linger, even the most stubborn beachcombers havelearned their lesson. When the warning flags are up, get out!

The picture of Topsail Island at ground zero the morning after Fran's Furyisn't a pretty one.

Sgt. Ron Shanahan was one of the first onto the island after the storm.He says it looked like a bomb had exploded. There were actually housessitting on the roadways, but no windows were broken. It was as if theocean picked up the houses and dropped them in the roadways.

Shanahan works for the Surf City Police Department. It was his job tostay. Even Shanahan has second thoughts about his decision.

Andy Redmond was just across the Intercoastal Waterway. He wasn't alone. In fact, he had a full house that included his wife, mother-in-law, twonext door neighbors, another friend, two dogs, a parakeet and a cat.

Redmond told WRAL'sDavidCrabtreehe stayed because he didn't think Fran would be so fierce. Shanahan knew better. He was stationed at the foot of the Surf City Bridge when Fran barged ashore.

"The bridge just lit up arcing," Shanahan recalls. "The power poles werearcing on the bridge. It just lit up like a blue ball of flame and westarted running and jumped into the vehicles and headed down Highway 50West."

That was just before his telephone went dead. Andy Redmond called a neighbor who had also stayed behind.

Redmond remembers hanging up the phone, looking out in his neighbor'sdirection, then hearing a big crack. Just then, a 50 foot tall pine treecrashed through the side of his house.

And when Redmond saw the damage the next morning, he knew he was luckyto be alive. He also knew one storm like this was enough.

Ron Shanahan now keeps a guardian angel pin on his shoulder, just in caseof another hurricane. But if he has his way, like Andy Redmond, last yearwas enough to last a lifetime.