Sunday, September 05, 2010

Hurricane Fatalities??

I had this interesting question yesterday from one of our readers (Andy Bailey, whose comment I reproduced on Friday):

"In all my years of reading about Ocracoke from local authors and your posts I have never come across a story indicating an islander had actually perished due to a hurricane. Lot's of frightening stories to be sure, but I don't recall any actual deaths (and not from shipwrecks, etc, but from actual island residents who die as a direct result of a storm). I'm thinking that number is very, very small, but perhaps you could share some of your vast knowledge of Ocracoke history here."

I have always been told that no Ocracoke islander has ever died as a direct result of a hurricane. And this is true, as far as I know. I have never heard of any hurricane or storm related fatalities among islanders.

However, a few years ago I came across an official report filed August 21, 1899 by S.L. Doshoz, Weather Bureau Observer at the Hatteras Weather Station, describing the "Old August Storm" of August 16, 17, & 18, 1899, one of the worst hurricanes ever to hit the Outer Banks. After describing the devastation in vivid detail he notes that "[a] pleasure boat at Ocracoke with a party of men from Washington, N.C., was lost and a portion of the party were drowned."

Had the pleasure boaters taken shelter in the village they almost certainly would have survived.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter, Looking for the Wahabs of Ocracoke, was written by Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. You can read the article here:


  1. Don't you hate to hear stories like that? If only I or they would have done this & that ---
    I guess that is where people would say if I had only knew I would have changed my decision. Such a sad story.

  2. Andy B10:35 PM

    Thank you, Philip, for the information. That would have been my guess - that there have been no fatalities among island residents. Pretty incredible, really...but a good record to maintain.

    Enjoy the quiet and the calm of early September. Thanks again!

    Andy B.

  3. Anonymous3:40 PM

    That was interesting info, Philip. Too bad that those folks in the boat were killed, but it's quite amazing that no lost of life has been recorded while being on the island during an actual storm.

    I would believe, though, that after a dangerous hurricane storm passes that folks are very humbled & most thankful. Does church attendance increase for a little while?

  4. Anonymous5:50 PM

    I was Ocracoke Methodist Sunday and people were very thankful. Saw Philip at the end of Howard talking with Cooter of Cooter's towing.

  5. Anonymous6:32 PM

    Is there a place for folks who are visiting by boat or living on their boat to seek shelter during a hurricane? I met a few people this summer on Ocracoke who said they live on their boat. What do they do?

  6. Staying on a boat during a hurricane is a decidedly bad idea. Some folks who live on their boats also own houses on the island, where they can retreat to during a storm. Others stay with friends, or evacuate.

    Natural disasters such as hurricanes easily raise the issue of theodicy. Church attendance may or may not provide satisfying answers, depending, I suppose, on how deeply one thinks about it.

  7. Anonymous4:34 PM

    I'm glad to hear the folks who attended services on Sunday @ the Methodist church were thankful as one blogger wrote. Whether one attends church or not, I would naturally think after being spared from what could have been a terrible hurricane, that folks would be most humbled and thankful.

    To be certain, many of us were praying mighty hard to spare dear Ocracoke Island and most of all, to spare all life.

    In my Baptist church, located far mainland, last Sunday, we paused to thank the Lord for sparing our NC coast and that no one perished.

    The point being, many people pray before a storm and when the danger passes, I wonder how many folks remember to pause during their busy Labor Day weekend and be thankful Earl didn't destroy life or property. I hope a lot of people did take the time to be thankful, regardless if they were in church, or not.