Sunday, November 15, 2009


After one of the most quiet hurricane seasons that I can remember, we manage to vacation in the worst storm of the year. You might think that being in the middle of a Nor’Easter would ruin a vacation, but you’d be wrong.

This was the beach before the storm;

OBX, Nov 2009

OBX, Nov 2009

If you’ll notice in the above pictures, the ocean is relatively calm, and you can see how far back the waves are from the dunes. The top pic was taken the day we arrived and the second one was taken Tuesday. It was overcast but not windy yet.

Conditions Wednesday to Friday were pretty bad. The wind and rain were so constant that it made it hard to remember what quiet was like. The wind gusts were strong enough that they shook our house. We could hear the roar of the ocean over the wind and rain and inside the house with all the windows and doors shut. It was eerie to say the least.

This was the beach on Thursday when we walked over to see what was what:

Nor'Ida 006

The waves were clear up, and sometimes over, the dunes at this point. The sea foam would fly up and over the dunes clear to our house and it looked like clumps of snow at times. I had never seen anything like it before.

Nor'Ida 008

This was our walkway down to the beach. If you’ll notice, there are no stairs anymore. We actually saw several sets of stairs be swept by as we stood there. Lots of walkways were lost to the storm.

Nor'Ida 012

Here you can see more foam and get an idea of how high up the wave were beating on the dunes. You can also see where the dunes were already being eroded. At this point in the storm, we hadn’t even reached the worst of the series of high tides that were expected.

Here’s a video:

I think it was Wednesday night that the main road into town was flooded cutting off our way out. Thankfully, the little area where our house was located was almost directly across the street from a Harris Teeter so we had food and supplies the entire time we were stranded. Two of the streets that were in our neighborhood flooded too but were still passable. I’m pretty sure this is the only time I’ve ever been truly stranded anywhere. The road that our house was off of, NC 12 ended at the beach when you drive north on it. Literally. The pavement ends in sand. You can keep driving if you have 4WD or an ORV but I’m sure it’s not recommended during a storm. So the only way out was to drive south on NC 12 back to US 158, or the Bypass as it’s known, but NC 12 was flooded and closed between Corolla and Duck. You can Google Map it if you want.

Another video:

Anyway, we passed the time by playing Apples to Apples, doing crafts, and playing pool and foos ball. It was nice actually. We were all cozied up in the house with plenty of food, lots of things to do, and each other. Here are some more pictures:

Nor'Ida 025

Stairs and other debris floating by.

Nor'Ida 030



What was left of the stairs to the beach. Also, about half of the bulk of the dunes were gone. We estimated about 5 feet of the width was washed away. You can also see that the ocean had receded back away from the dunes.


This was the road next to our house. Our side yards flooded but that was it. Our house was actually ideally situated because we had very little standing water whereas most of the neighboring houses had much more.

On the drive home Saturday, we saw lots of flooded yards and roads still had standing water on them. Nags Head seemed to be the hardest hit in the Outer Banks. Many roads off of US 158 to the beach were still flooded and blocked off by the city. Some people also lost their homes in Nags Head. I saw footage of Rodanthe on the news and The Serendipity House, which was the house in the movie, was in the ocean. It was still standing at that point and I haven’t heard if it made it through the storm.

I hear so many people say how they don’t understand how people can live so close to the ocean. But you know what? I also hear people say how they don’t understand how people can live in California with earthquakes and fires or in the north with all the cold and snow. Is there any place on earth that is completely untouched by Mother Nature’s rage? When you take into account all the places that have oceanic storms, earthquakes, forest fires, landslides, avalanches, tornadoes, flooding, and droughts, there really isn’t anywhere that is 100% safe. You take the good with the bad. That’s life. The Outer Banks is gorgeous most of the year and rich in history. I guess it’s the bad that sticks out most in people’s minds though.


  1. I was wondering how the Serenity House survived.

  2. It's actually the Serendipity house. I typed the wrong name, heheh. Oops! From the info that I can find online, it was made uninhabitable when a different Nor'Easter came through last year and that the interior house shots in the movie were made in another house. I don't know if that's true or not, but considering its location, I suppose it could be.

    Our local news was out on the islands yesterday and the house is still there.

    I remember seeing that house on our way out to the lighthouse but didn't know what I was looking at. I wish that I had so I could have taken pictures.


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