Day before: Thursday September 5, 1996

We heard Hurricane Fran was on her way, but would probably go east of us. Hurricane Bertha hit us a few weeks ago and we had had worse thunderstorms so we weren't too concerned. We didn't bring in anything that was sitting outside. Around 9pm the wind started howling outside, and we realized it was going to be pretty scary, but still weren't too concerned so we went to bed around 11pm. It was raining hard.

Day 1: Friday, September 6, 1996


We were woken up when the power went out (we have things that make noise when they lose power). We could hear the wind howling a lot but we went back to sleep.

Around 1:30am

We realized we were both wide awake. The wind was howling so loud that you couldn't hear the rain coming down. We could hear trees falling. Thud. That one was far away. Thud. That one was close! We got up and tried to look outside. Thomas shined a flash light out our kitchen and we saw a huge tree fallen in our back yard. At this point we realized that this was a really serious storm! We went down to our laundry room and water was pouring under the door. The laundry room already had water covering the floor. We put towels up against the door to slow the flow. Thomas wanted to go outside to put something up against the door but I wouldn't let him. We figured later that if we would have opened the door, water would have poured in. There was nothing we could do, so we went back to bed to wait out the storm. Of course we couldn't sleep at all. The wind would die a little and then it would whip back up and then trees would fall. Finally around 4am it quieted down and we went to sleep. We found out later that at that point the eye of the hurricane was over us.

Here is the view out our kitchen window (click on the picture to see a larger picture). Our patio furniture is in the front (covered with small branches). You can see the large tree down in the back, leaning on another tree.


It just got light outside so we got up and went outside to survey the damage. We live on an acre that is heavily wooded with large trees. We were extremely lucky. There were trees down all over the yard but none hit the house or the cars. We had two large trees across the driveway and they took out the lines from the street to the house, so power and phone were both out. We also could not get the cars out of the driveway. There were a few large trees down in the front yard, but none close to the house. In the back yard there was a very large tree that came down hard and hit another large tree snapping it. These trees landed about 15-20 feet from our bedroom. There were more large trees fallen behind it. Between our driveway and our neighbors driveway, there is a sunken area full of trees and almost all the trees fell on our neighbors driveway (about 15-20 trees, some quite large).

Here is what our driveway looked like.

We decided to walk around the neighborhood. Trees were down all over, or leaning on power lines, and many down completely taking power lines down with them. We saw two houses with trees leaning on the houses. We had to walk over trees that were completely blocking the road.

We came back and ate breakfast and then tackled the water in our laundry room and hallway. There was 1/2 inch of water covering the floor. Our little mop was useless, it would take forever. Thomas managed to sweep the water over to the door and push it out in larger quantities.

Here is a view of the back of our house.


We got the water mostly out, the rest can dry so we sat down for lunch. Owen dropped by to check on us since I didn't show up for work and our phone didn't work. He doesn't have power or water where he lives since his neighborhood has a well. He also said that it took him a long time to get into work since so many roads are blocked by trees.

Owen gave me a ride into work so I could make phone calls since our phone line was down. None of the stoplights worked on the way in and some of them were on the ground. Duke has its own generator, so there was power in our building. Duke didn't cancel classes until 10:30am since Duke has power. Not many faculty showed up to teach.

I was able to talk to my father who lives in Raleigh. There were stuck for awhile since there were trees down on both ends of their street. They also don't have power, but have a phone. My sister and her boyfriend who both live in Wilmington came up to stay with my Dad and her boyfriend's car got hit by a tree, but just a dent, it is still driveable. They were just heading back down to Wilmington to try to go home.

I caught a ride home around 4pm. While I was at work, Thomas had gone out looking for someone with a chain saw. He helped two people clear trees out of their driveway. One of the persons had a tree go through the roof of their house. They had managed to call a contractor who had come out and put a plastic tarp over it, but the tree was just too big to remove for the time being. When I got back at 4pm, Thomas and 3 other men with two chain saws were working on the two trees in our driveway. Two more men came up to help. After 6pm the trees were cut (several chunks had to be cut as one tree had fallen diagonally down the driveway and was still partially in the air). They then cleared one more tree that was between our driveway and our neighbors so our neighbors could use our driveway to get out. There was no way the 15-20 trees on their driveway were going to be cleared for awhile.

Thomas and neighbors cutting down the trees in our driveway. (Thomas is on the right).


We got together with two other neighbors and cooked out for dinner. Noone in the neighborhood has power. Most people have phones. We don't have a phone, but we are luckier than most since we have gas. We have hot water and a gas stove.

It gets dark between 8:30 and 9, and it was too dark to do anything, plus we were very tired so went to bed.

Day 2: Saturday, September 7, 1996

We got up when it got light. Thomas decided to work on the yard and I decided to wash the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and wash some laundry in the sink since we predict it will be 1-2 weeks before we get power. Power will be restored to hospitals and businesses that provide services first, then to areas that will affect the most people. Single family homes will be restored last. Since the line from the street to our house is down, we will be last on the list. Of course I had planned to do laundry this weekend so we are starting off with all dirty clothes. Our dishwasher was also full of dirty dishes... Oh well...

Thomas won't let me help him clean up the yard since I'm not suppose to lift anything heavy or do a lot of bending over. So I went into work for a few hours and saw 5 trucks working on a section of power lines where two posts were completely snapped. When I came home a few hours later, they had put up two new poles and now all the stop lights (5) from work to home except the one closest to our neighborhood are working.

Here is what our driveway looks like cleared. There are still trees hanging around in the wires.

We let our neighbors take hot showers since they don't have hot water. We also ate dinner with our neighbors again. Someone had given them a pile of chicken that had started to defrost so they cooked it all up on the grill. They said they went out to breakfast at a breakfast place that had a generator and a gas stove. This place was serving food with paper plates, and plastic utensils and the only food they were offering was eggs, grits, bacon and sausage. They said the griddle was full of food and there was a line of people to get into the place.

We came home at dark (8:30pm) but weren't tired, so we drove over to my office at Duke where there was power and light and stayed there til 11pm. I got email from Owen, he has just gotten power back. Durham has a curfew, midnight to 6am. Other cities have curfews starting at 6pm or 8pm. Chapel Hill is only letting residents in the city.

Day 3: Sunday, September 8, 1996

Still no power in our neighborhood. Someone managed to buy a generator and it is really loud. Some of the streets in our neighborhood still haven't been cleared.

Thomas went by the mall near our house to try to get pictures developed, but it was not open. The big mall in Raleigh (Crabtree Valley) had flooded but was suppose to be open now but we didn't want to drive that far.

We have a side-by-side freezer refridgerator and the freezer section is now warm. We had to throw out the perishables. It has been difficult to get ice. People stand in line at those grocery stores that are open for hours to get it. Some price gouging is also going on. Someone was selling ice at $4 a bag! There is a freezer at work, so I brought in plastic jugs and filled them with water, but it took a long time for them to turn into ice. We also have a small deep freezer and things were packed tightly there, so we still have some things frozen but they are starting to thaw.

We had neighbors over to our house tonight and cooked all the meat from our freezer on the grill since it wouldn't last another day.

We now our using just two coolers for some food and have to make new ice everyday. We again went into my office for the evening. I talked to my Dad and he just got power. Another sister who lives in Raleigh and my step-mother's mother who still don't have power were going to come over and stay with my Dad. We live too far away (30 miles) to go over there. A major street (Wade Ave.) by my sister's house is washed out (sunked in) by flooding and is closed. The paper said it will take weeks to repair.

Day 4: Monday, September 9, 1996

Duke and UNC are holding classes, but NCSU canceled classes today. All public schools in the surrounding counties have canceled classes since many roads are still not passable, and with power out many stoplights are still out.

My Dad went down to Wrightsville Beach to check on his house there. He was very lucky. The house has minor damage and there is a lot of debris, but no major damage. The first floor is all garage where most of the damage is. He was out of town last week and wasn't able to board up the windows, and surprisingly they all held. His house is on the inland waterway, about 4 rows of houses over from the beach. His dock is half missing and the part that is still there is damaged. The sunfish that was on the dock disappeared with the dock. Other people weren't so lucky. Two houses are completely gone and others have major structural damage.

Sometime today, our street got power. However, we still don't have power, since trees knocked down the wires from the street to our house. Our closest neighbor also doesn't have power since they share the line from the street with us. I finally managed to talk to a person at Duke Power instead of just an automated system and explained that the power line is down to our house and tangled in trees. After putting me on hold for a while, she said that Duke Power would fix it and we would be put on the priority list, whatever that means. If the box is damaged on your house, then you have to hire an electrician to get it fixed first. The box is still on our house and it doesn't look like it took too much force, so hopefully it is ok. We won't find out until Duke Power comes out.

Day 5: Tuesday, September 10, 1996

NCSU will hold classes today. All public schools in the surrounding counties have canceled classes again.

The major road by our house is still blocked with several trees down and tangled in wires. As a result people have to detour through our neighborhood, so there is a large increase of people driving through. This morning they are finally starting to work on clearing the road.

Sometime today we got power and one phone line working. However they hooked our first line up to our second phone line. Our neighbors weren't so lucky. When they fixed the pole between our two houses, the power didn't work for them. They will have to call an electrician.

After 5 days with no power, we had to throw away the remaining food in our freezer.

Day 8: Friday, September 13, 1996

Our neighbors finally got power back today. Duke Power fixed the wire to the pole between our two houses on Tuesday, and when they did our power worked, but our neighbors didn't. They had to hire an electrician to fix the line from the pole to their house. Once that was fixed, then Duke power had to come back out and turn the power on.

Our neighbors driveway is still blocked. There is a gully between our driveway and theirs, and most of the trees in the gulley blew over onto their driveway. They are using our driveway since they connect by the houses.

Day 9: Saturday, September 14, 1996

My sister Susanna in Raleigh finally got power back today.

Day 11: Monday, September 16, 1996

Durham and Raleigh public schools finally opened after missing 6 days of classes.

Day 16: Saturday, September 21, 1996

It has been over two weeks since the hurricane hit. We still don't have cable and our second phone line hasn't been fixed yet. There are still a few people that don't have one phone line, so we're not complaining. Our neighbors driveway was finally cleared.

What is life like these days:

Day 19: Tuesday, September 24, 1996

We finally got cable back. Just in time to record the A&E Mystery! However, they hooked us up, but left the line on the ground. Guess they will come back later to put the line on the pole. We still don't have our second phone line fixed.

Day 24: Sunday, September 29, 1996

Our second phone line was fixed today! I called yesterday to report it for the third time. I think they get so many calls that they just fix things and ignore the calls early on.

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