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: http://www.villagecrafsmen.com/news082110.htm.