What do Outer Banks Locals do when a hurricane is headed your way?
I get asked this question quite often, both in a professional and a personal capacity. I have lived here so long that I am used to the fact that storms and hurricanes are just a part of life on the Outer Banks. Once you have lived here a while, and I guess the amount of time depends on how long you have lived here and where you live on the OBX and what type of person you are...you deal with each storm, and especially each hurricane, accordingly.
First of all, despite what Jim Cantore or The Weather Channel says, we stay calm. There is always a lot of notice before a hurricane comes ashore. Time to get to the grocery store, board up windows, clean up the yard and make sure we have water and batteries. And, if necessary, time to leave. I am sure that Mr. Cantore is a perfectly nice man, but, to put it nicely, his face is not a welcome one here. We want facts, not drama.
I know what you are thinking, "Is my vacation going to be ruined, what should I do?" Well, the best advice I can give you is to listen to your vacation rental company and local authorities. We have a plan in place at Village Realty, one that is reviewed every year in early May. Who does what, when and where. Our priority is making sure our guests, those who are here, are safe. As you can imagine, the phones ring constantly once a named storm becomes a hurricane. We relay information as quickly as possible via social media,email and on our website. And we update it often.
IF, a big IF, an evacuation is ordered, then things kick into high gear. That means calling each occupied home and letting our guests know that yes, you have to leave. Yes, you have to take everything with you. Yes, we will give you the information you will need in order to file a claim if you purchased travel insurance. We do ask our guests in to help us just a little and move outdoor furniture, that is not too heavy, indoors...and to make sure windows are closed, doors are locked and all lights turned off. Pack everything, and leave as soon as you can. We do not have any shelters here...enough said. Most of all, don't freak out. You will be given plenty of time and notice. Get your car gassed up and decide if you are going to stay in a hotel off the island (Norfolk, Chesapeake, etc) and if so, book your rooms quickly.
Why do you HAVE to leave? For your own safety. For your comfort and peace of mind. And for our peace of mind and safety too. If the storm is bad, power can go out, no water...and a big mess. Locals stay home...we have neighbors to help us if something happens. We have experience with storms. Visitors do not. Being without power is not fun...no ice, no AC, and you better not open that refrigerator if you can help it. If there is ocean over wash, the driving can be hazardous.
Yes, I know it is a pain, I really do. And most years, it is not something that happens. And again, unlike a tornado, we get lots of warning.
The best sources for weather information is the National Weather Service Hurricane Center website. Dare County and Currituck County will keep their Emergency Management pages updated during a hurricane warning and there are some local radio stations you can turn to.
The Rock 97.1
The Sound 99.1
So, pay attention, stay calm, listen to the radio and in the meantime, enjoy your time on the Outer Banks.