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Hurricane Irene barrels toward East Coast
Question of the Day
On Thursday in North Carolina, three coastal counties issued evacuation orders covering more than 200,000 people, including tourists and full-time residents.
Dania Armstrong of New York sat outside a motel smoking a cigarette while she waited for her family to get ready. Armstrong, her daughter and grandchildren had already been ordered off the island of Ocracoke and planned to leave the town of Buxton soon.
“I’ve been coming down here for 50 years,” she said. “I know what’s coming. It’s time to leave. You don’t want to be here when it hits.”
John Robeson, an accountant from New Jersey, brought his wife and two children down for a week, but they were cutting the trip short after three days.
“I’m disappointed,” he said as he loaded his car. “You wait all year. Talk about it. Make plans for your vacation. And now this. It’s a bad break.”
Other year-round residents planned to ride it out, despite warnings from authorities that they will be on their own immediately after the storm.
“If you leave, you can’t get back for days because of the roads, and you don’t know what’s going on with your property,” said Kathy MacKenzie, who works at Dillon’s Corner, a general store in Buxton.
Ollie Jarvis, the store’s owner, said he’s staying and preparing for the worst. During Hurricane Emily in 1993, his store was flooded with 18 inches of water and sand from a storm surge. Like a spear, the water pushed a T-shirt rack filled with clothes through the ceiling. They still have the high-water mark on a wall near the cash register.
“I can’t leave. You have to worry about the stuff you have. You have to save what you can,” he said.
Bobby Overbey of Virginia Beach, Va., pulled into a gas station in his Jeep with two surfboards hanging on the back. He planned to stay, despite the evacuation orders.
Usually the waves top out at 2 to 3 feet. On Thursday, he was riding 4- and 5-foot waves.
“You live for this,” he said.
Farmers grimly accepted the fate of their crops. Strong winds and widespread flooding could mean billions of dollars in losses for corn, cotton, soybean, tobacco and timber growers. While most farmers have disaster insurance, policies often pay only about 70 percent of actual losses.
Wilson Daughtry owns Alligator River Growers near Engelhard, near Pamlico Sound. Though he is under a mandatory evacuation order, Daughtry and his workers planned to stay to salvage what corn and squash they can.
He said he’s lost count of how many times his crops have been wiped out by storms.
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