Category Archives: buildings

The Breakthrough

Tropical cyclones are better experienced from a distance. Earlier this month Hurricane Earl, hundreds of miles out to sea, swept by us. High seas churned up and washed through in expected areas.  The S-curve originally paved a bit straighter, has long been notorious for ocean over-wash. The S configuration is due to the fact, it has been relocated westward so many times. Arguably it has been one the most expensive sections of road to maintain in the state.

With the new bypassing bridge opened, traffic will no longer need the traditional route.

Since the S-curve was abandoned, this was the first time an over wash has broken through the spot that has been repeatedly dug out, rebuilt and reused. This time that won’t happen, ever again.

Road signs are still in place with the asphalt surface buried under accreted sand.

Hundreds of sandbags were of little help against the power of the sea. As part of the bridge agreement they, along with the roadbed, will be excavated and removed.

For over 30 years Mirlo Beach has been a fantasy development that is becoming another victim to the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

Oceanfront property owners in dire shape, have gotten permission to move their houses west toward a street no longer needed. At the very best, it should give them a few more years to ponder their options.

Meanwhile, the Black Pearl stands stoically defiant in nature’s grasp.

Chalk Up Another

After a few days of northerly gales, I got up this morning to hear about another oceanfront building succumbing to the perils of the sea. It was not unexpected. I wanted to have a look, and the area south of the Rodanthe pier was ground zero.

There was already a contingent on hand to see the spectacle. With visitors here, I’m sure most of them had never seen such a sight. Walking in I saw photographer friends, Don Bowers and Dan Pullen. Sauntering around various vantage points, I settled in on a wind-protected elevated perch where Don and Dan joined me. They were shooting up a storm.

Over the years I’ve lost count how many buildings I’ve seen destroyed. I’d venture that it approaches 50. In 2008 I watched one on Sea Haven Street actually buckle and go down.

Today after a 2 hour wait I got to witness another one in the process. It was leaning eastward on piles high over the beach as waves plowed beneath it.

 After an hour we heard a little snap. Fifteen minutes later another cracking sound. It was then I knew it was going to sea. Five minutes later we heard another crunch. A minute passed and the creaking picked up into a crash. Suddenly before our eyes, the foundation gave way and lowered the structure on to the incoming waves. It reminded me of the Wicked Witch  getting splashed with water and melting away.

In a matter of seconds, it had collapsed…

At first it floated around, teetering in the surf.

As water poured in, it began breaking apart, expelling contents.

Dan got up-close and personal as a wall of debris washed toward him.

In less than 5 minutes, you’d never know it was a two story house.

As man builds so close to the sea, the messy spectacle continues!

Rodanthe 1975

I spend lots of time looking through old images. They bring back bygone memories. It’s taught me that a photograph taken today, later becomes a document of history. Interesting old photos appreciate with time because they can never be taken again. In the Summer of 1975, something possessed me to shoot a sign directing folks to the booming pier complex at Rodanthe. Nearly 50 years later, I realize how my hometown has changed.

All the buildings in the background are gone, washed away or relocated. The open field of sand, grasses and wildflowers is now covered with McMansions. The sign indicates that Elvin Hooper had caught his world record channel bass less than 2 years prior.

How I miss those days!

 

Avon Harbor

Local commercial fishing operations on Hatteras have always fascinated me. It’s the old school work ethic of harvesting from the sea that draws me in. Working on the water has been a cultural mainstay here for generations.

In 1996 I bought a Pentax medium format camera system. Using black and white or color negative film, the results surpassed 35mm work in the quality and sharpness of my darkroom prints.

That same year, I shot Avon Harbor when it still had a working waterfront.

Today most of that has nearly all disappeared.

Coming Soon

In building a series of bridges on Hatteras Island, NCDOT will tentatively open the newest one in March. Known as the Jug Handle, it replaces a roadway that, over the years, has routinely been washed out by high seas.

Last August I was fortunate to be given an after-hours tour of the impressively engineered site. 

The north and south terminus construction had yet to be connected midway.

High up on a superstructure, I admired the curvature toward the northern terminus on Pea Island.

Looking south, with Rodanthe as a backdrop, the now-gone trestles and infrastructure were still in place. Possibly opening to foot traffic in March, I hope to be walking the 2 ½ mile span as I did at the new Basnight Bridge in 2019.

With a tourism based economy, access to the islands is key. And as roadways continue to be compromised, this bridge won’t be the last.