Irene was my first hurricane since moving to the East Coast over a year and a half ago. The closest storm prior to that was Earl, but he only gave us a little wind and rain.
Watching Wilmington prepare, or not, was puzzling to me. In San Diego, our large-scale natural disasters are usually wildfires. In the bad fires, the city grinds to a halt, with strangely empty streets in midday. Entire sections of the county are evacuated as the fires advance, sectioned by street. All those north of Pomerado Road must leave. No exceptions, not optional. These named shelters are available.
Wilmingtonians seemed an odd bunch. The most the news would tell you is that those in low-lying areas probably should go elsewhere. Is the downtown riverfront a low-lying area? I have no idea. A few businesses boarded up or taped their windows. Some stayed open; most closed. In advance of the storm, some people defiantly declared they would not evacuate no matter how bad it got, others pragmatically decided if the storm was a Cat 3 or higher, they’d move inland. Thursday evening, the calm before the storm was evident in the colorful sunset, lulling one into a false sense of security. There is no storm.
Friday afternoon, the rain began, followed by the wind.
Our wedding for the weekend, Sue and Josh, moved their ceremony up to Friday so that their friends, many of whom are police, fire, and EMS, could still attend prior to being called in for a mandatory extended shift beginning Friday night.
After the Friday ceremony, since the storm wasn’t undrivable, I headed toward the beaches to document. Huge waves, 60 mph gusts, storm surge, high tides. By Friday night, the streets were mostly deserted, save for a few daring businesses with a sense of humor.
The ramp normally goes down to the floating dock, not up.
CNN reporting on the storm:
Saturday afternoon, the wind gusts died down and the rain slowed to a drizzle. The most damage seemed to be from downed trees and power lines. The reception was held on Saturday, during the tail end of the storm, as planned. Irene gave us the most beautiful sunset on Saturday evening as a parting gift, of which we took advantage with Sue and Josh.
By Sunday, the storm had cleared, and I returned to the beach. Not a cloud in the sky, seashells littered the beach, including the rarely found live conch and starfish. Another parting gift from Irene.
Same bridge as above, waters receded.
Same dock, now with the ramp going down.
To our photographer friends reading this post, you may think: These images are underexposed. They should bump the contrast. The white balance is too blue. Some images are blurry. Well, to that I say — the dark, low contrast, blueness represents the storm accurately. The images were captured between ISO 1250 and 3200… in midday. The blur, well, you try shooting with a 200 mm lens in 60 mph gusts! 🙂 Hope you’ve enjoyed!