Surfers ignore evacuations, paddle toward Matthew's waves

Posted October 7, 2016 7:00 p.m. EDT
Updated October 7, 2016 7:25 p.m. EDT

— New Hanover County officials have issued a voluntary evacuation notice to urge people in beach communities and flood-prone areas to leave before rain totals from Hurricane Matthew start adding up.

Despite that, some people are flocking to North Carolina's beaches: surfers.

"As surfers, we love hurricanes. We like hurricanes to stay offshore and produce surf," said Jeff DeGroote, owner of South End Surf Shop in Wrightsville Beach.

DeGroote goes to the beach every day to put together a surf report.

"It's a little unfavorable at the moment," he said Friday, adding that he is keeping his board out of the water for now.

Emergency management officials point out Matthew has proven unpredictable, so they warn surfers to follow DeGroote's example and stay out of the water.

"It's going to be very unsafe for anyone to be in the water, regardless of your skill," said Warren Lee, director of New Hanover County Emergency Management. "It's that time of the year (when) the lifeguards have gone home for the winter. There are very few emergency response personnel that are going to be able to get to you if you're in danger."

DeGroote said his biggest decision isn't whether to go in the water, it's whether to board up his shop.

"We can get it done, you know, in an hour," he said. "We're just praying for the best."