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Wrightsville Beach, N.C. — Lots of people at Wrightsville Beach were still enjoying the sand and surf during the Labor Day weekend. But for many others, Hurricane Dorian preparations were in full effect.
New Hanover County plans to declare an emergency by 5 p.m. Tuesday. Schools will close on Wednesday, including UNC Wilmington. On Monday, locals were taking stock of the storm and stocking up.
In bundles, in buggies, in the beds of pick-up trucks, water flowed out of a Food Lion on 17th Street. Seven cases saturated John Mitchell’s trunk.
“They said it might be fairly large, so I just wanted to pick up some water and make sure I got enough canned goods to get me through,” Mitchell said.
Around Wilmington, people have a go-with-the-flow approach toward approaching storms.
“Get my camping gear, just ride it out and wait for the power to turn back on,” said Blake Hewitt. “Got my water, got my generators fired up, so I feel fairly good to go.”
Down by the water, a long line of pickups and trailers cued up to fetch boats out of the Intracoastal Waterway. A storm surge is like a battering ram to a boat.
“The boat is relatively new, so the friends say better take it out,” one person in line said. “They know better than I do.”
Wrightsville Beach is barely a year removed from the deluge of Hurricane Florence, which paralyzed the area for day, after long day. The South Beach Grille was closed for five months because of the mess from Florence.
Now Dorian deals the dreaded deja vu.
“Just didn’t want to have to face one more time within a year,” said Elaine Andrews, co-owner of the South Beach Grille.
Andrews said she and her husband plan to shut down and board up the building as the storm nears.
“Well, we’re actually on our way to get the last of the plywood we need,” Andrews said. “We’re gonna be ready to board up the windows. We’re hoping it goes off shore, but we’ve got to be ready.”
“I feel like all things considered, a year removed from Florence, we are in as good a shape as we probably could be,” said New Hanover County manager Chris Coudriet.
Coudriet and others were at the county’s just-opened Emergency Operations Center. He said a high storm surge and ongoing recovery efforts from Florence are the main worries.
But clouds do have their silver linings.
“We don’t have a lot of saturated soil, so we can take on more rain than otherwise we might have been able to,” Coudriet said.
Coudriet expects the first two shelters to open Wednesday evening. He also expects all beachfront communities to issue evacuation orders as the week goes on and the storm closes in.