Good morning Guerilleros! It’s another beautiful day on the Outer Banks, and life is good. But my neighborhood still has garbage lining the roads from Irene. While you may think the county is just a little slow in clean up, it isn’t their fault. When Hurricane Irene swept up the coast, it hit the Outer Banks first. My entire neighborhood was flooded. It was a pretty intense situation at the end, but we got through it. And Facebook was a big help. All of the images were taken from my or friends Facebook pages.
While it’s no surprise that we flooded (the average elevation around here is 2 feet above sea level), this storm was a pain. The Weather Channel was doing their typical job of panic mongering and predictions of doom and gloom, but by the time the storm hit us, it was only a Category One. We were less than worried.
In fact, the first half of the storm was kind of a joke. I went and visited friends in the middle of it. I have a string of Foursquare check-ins and comments to catalogue the complete disregard I had for the storm. That’s right, visiting friends in a hurricane.
But the back half of the storm eventually came in. I saw the water rising in the canal behind my house, and the water was quickly encroaching into mine and my neighbor’s yards. I posted this to my Facebook, and quickly received word that it was going up everywhere in Colington. Hmm, maybe that’s not good.
I went back into my house, I ate something, and sat down to watch TV. Yeah, we still had power even. As I was relaxing into my chair, a friend of mine called to check on me. I mentioned how the water in the canals had risen pretty quickly, and he said he’d never seen it rise so fast. I agreed; four to seven feet in an hour and a half was a pretty decent rate.
His response was what made me realize I had been far too relaxed with this storm. He said ”No, I just meant the three feet it went up in the past twenty minutes.
Three feet in twenty minutes? Uh-oh.
The Waters Roll In
I quickly donned my rain jacket and ducked outside. Indeed, the water had risen from the small area around the canal to around my house and up the street. My entire neighborhood was submerged in brackish sound water. I was stunned. Never had the waters risen this high in the nearly twenty years I’ve lived here.
The worst part was, it wouldn’t stop. The water just kept rushing in. Many of the homes in my area are built well of the ground, but naturally, not mine. It has a crawlspace under it, so its about four feet off the ground. Which, while normally plenty, was rapidly becoming less likely to be enough.
My cousin had gone to sleep with the strict admonition to not wake him until “the water is around my ankles.” Once my brother came over, wading through waist deep water, I figured by the time he actually woke up, it’d be ankle-deep in the house. He was clearly a bit pissed I’d woken him, but when he looked outside and saw people kayaking through our front yard, he lauded me for my fine decision making skills. Things were getting pretty tense. We were inches from disaster. And the water just kept coming.
Ultimately, it was our lack of height that saved us. The water stopped rising a scant six inches from the bottom of the house, and didn’t do any damage to our home. Internet went out, but that was it. Our cars were not so fortunate. They flooded up to the windows. Thankfully, I had full coverage, but it’ still a pain in the neck.
Ironically, the people whose homes were higher up suffered the worst. Years of possessions accumulated in basements all over Colington now fill the Dare County dumps. Naturally, I had boxes of stuff in my mothers garage for “safekeeping”. No longer. But lot of people lost a lot of things that can never be replaced.
The Critical Role of Social Media
Now you might be thinking, “This is a tragic tale, sure, but what does it have to do with social media?” I’ll explain.
When that water was inches from the door, I was scared. If it had come into my cousins house, we would have been in a bad spot. I would have lost pretty much everything I own, instead of just almost everything I owned. Not to mention, where the hell would we live? And then after the fact, when I was surveying all the damage to my mom’s house and my neighborhood in general, it was devastating. I was already stricken with the flu, but that left me weak in another way.
But I knew I wasn’t alone. I could stay connected through Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. Before the storm was bad, we joked together. When it was bad, we were scared together. And after the storm, we commiserated together.
But through thick and thin, we were together through the storm. Which made a tense situation a lot easier.
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