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Hurricane Isabel Log

Hurricane Isabel Chase Log

   - Monday, September 15
   Stop at Lowe's to get materials for homemade weatherproof housing for video
   camera. 6" dia. plastic pipe, plexiglass scraps, 8 metal l-brackets, water-
   sealing cement, rubber weatherstripping, cabinet handle, 8 nuts, 8 bolts, 8
   washers. Cut pipe to length, drill mounting holes in pipe and plexiglass
   panels, mount plexiglass to pipe using brackets and bolts, seal front panel
   to pipe with cement. Removable panel in back seals with weatherstripping
   cut to fit. Not very pretty, but this should work! Total cost: $25

   - Tuesday, September 16
   6:30PM - Left Charleston, WV
   12:00AM - Arrive in Raleigh, NC for the night.

   - Wednesday, September 17
   10:30AM - Leave Raleigh, NC. Clear skies, cirrus visible in the east.
   12:00PM - Rocky Mount, NC - Stop to film swaying traffic lights and trees.
      Cirrus fingers overhead.
   4:00PM - Arrive in Virginia Beach, VA. Bill will be doing all of the driving
      today and tomorrow.
   5:30PM - Travel to coast to film heavy surf.
   6:30PM - Stop at Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel for some video. Two guys surfing
      in the ocean. Another teenager makes landsurfing board out of skateboard,
      wooden pole, and bedsheet. It works - he sails down the street (see video).
   8:00PM - Stop at Wal-Mart for extra tapes and Home Depot for wing nuts to
      make rear panel of weatherproof housing easier to remove and reclose. First
      outer rain bands begin to sweep over.
   11:00 - check data, go to bed.

   - Thursday, September 18
   *Part I: Driving to target area.
   7:00AM - Wake up - check data.
   7:25AM - leave for NC - stop for gas and food at boarded-up 7-11 (see photos).
   8:00AM - encounter first downed trees on Route 17 along Dismal Swamp Canal.
   8:30AM - cross NC state line.
   10:00AM - stop west of Edenton on Route 17 at the Chowan River, where heavy
      waves are battering the western shoreline. Stop for video, using the
      weatherproof housing. Get soaked with big wave. The housing works, camera
      is dry! (see video)
   10:30AM - Encounter first tree requiring 4WD to get around.
   11:30AM - Make wrong turn on 64 and don't realize until past Robersonville.
      Back to 17 and on south!
   1:00PM - Stop in Washington for gas and last-minute snack as rain bands are
      getting more intense. Head east on 264 to Belington and back, stopping at
      various places to film (see video).
   2:00PM - Back in Washington to ride out the eyewall.

   *Part II: The Eye
   2:00PM - Intense wind and rain signal the arrival of the eyewall in Washington.
      A billboard ad peels from backboard. Can't believe trees are able to take
      this abuse - none fall in our immediate vicinity. Drive around town shooting
      video (see video).
   2:30PM - Winds are beginning to subside, so we head back north on 17
   3:00PM - Stop to observe large fallen tree near Old Ford that has crushed an
      apartment complex and a van (see video and photos). Resident barely escaped.
   3:30PM - We seem to be getting back into the eyewall as convective bursts
      start passing overhead again.
   4:00PM - Experience strongest winds of the day along Route 17 bewteen Windsor
      and Edenton, stopping for 15 minutes to film battered structures and bending
      trees (see video). Continuing north, we encounter the first tree roadblock
      of the day.
   4:30PM - meet up with the StormNet group in Windsor and together try
      unsuccessfully to get north again, all north roads are blocked. Only option
      is to go back south to Williamston. Stopping at a small gas station (no power)
      near Williamston, we take a break as the eye is apparently overhead. Winds
      are light, but skies are overcast. Soon winds begin to emerge out of the
      southeast, and we hear tree branches snapping as gusts begin picking up,
      though nowhere near as strong as the northern eyewall.

   *Part III - The Marathon home
   5:30PM - Problem - Stormnet vehicle is low on fuel. Not good - no power
      anywhere. They stop at Williamston and decide to check into a hotel (no
      power). We have enough fuel to go west, so we leave the Stormnet group and
      head on west to Tarboro where power is still on and damage is minimal.
   6:30PM - Fuel up at Tarboro and head north on Route 258. Power is on until
      Scotland Neck, where heavy damage starts again. It is dark now and hard to
      see trees on the road ahead. We have to slow down to 25-30mph to watch out
      for trees and be able to dodge them in time.
   8:30PM - We have made it all the way past Murfreesboro and Winton and are now
      on Route 13 north just 20 miles from the border. Up until this point, all
      trees have been passable. But 4 miles north of 158 on 13, huge tree across
      the road (see video).
   9:00PM - We head back 10 miles to Murfreesboro and try 258 north - it is also
      blocked 3 miles up.
   9:30PM - We have no choice but to go 158 west to I-95, unless we go back to
      Tarboro, over 1 1/2 hours to the south (remember, 30mph max). Driving west
      through Murfreesboro, Hertford county police enforcing the curfew stop us.
      They accept Bill's explanation and we continue on to Conway, where a large
      tree and powerlines block the road. A parking lot next to the road allows
      passage, but Conway police are blocking off the parking lot. They tell us
      we must stay at the shelter due to the curfew, then they drive off. We sit
      in the lot for a few more minutes deciding what to do. If we try to go, we
      might get arrested....if we stay, they'll send us to the shelter - wherever
      that is. Shelter does not sound like a good place to sleep.
   10:00PM - Finally the cop, thankfully a mild-mannered small-town Andy Griffith,
      comes back and allows us to try continuing west, but he says no one knows if it
      is clear to I-95. Man, we hope it is.
   10:45PM - Turns out that 158 is passable, and we get on I-95 at Roanoke Rapids.
      The Interstate is not any help in making up lost time due to numerous trees.
      We average only 40mph, only because one lane has been cleared.
   11:00PM - Cross the Virginia state line
   11:10PM - Emporia is completely without power. all hotels are out of commission.
      We have had enough of the nighttime tree-dodging slow going after 16 hours on the
      road. We park in a truck stop and sleep until daybreak.

   - Friday, September 19
   7:30AM - Back on the road. 58 east is mainly clear, still many trees to dodge,
      but it is daylight now and not near the tedious task it was at night.
   9:30AM - Arrive in Virginia Beach - power is on and my truck is OK. I have
      not had anything to drink for over 16 hours and quickly down a glass of ice water.
   10:00AM - Head back to Raleigh. Passed hundreds of cherry picker trucks, some
      in convoys of 50 to 70 or more - quite a sight on the long straightaways on I-95
      (see video)! Also long convoys of Asplundh tree service trucks. Roanoke Rapids
      is the first place with power, stop for a much needed lunch.
      1:30PM - Back in Raleigh for the weekend, staying to visit family until Sunday.

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