I've never been in a hurricane before. The closest I've been to experiencing one was last year this time while covering a tropical storm that formed over Virginia Beach. We dealt with flooded homes, stranded cars, downed power lines, that sort of thing.
I remember in amazement the water level at my doorstep, watching it slosh up and over the curb. I remember barely getting to work in my gray Sonata, worried that the flooded streets would hurt my engine. Going into Hurricane Earl I didn't know what to expect. That was a tropical storm, this was a hurricane.
Shooting a stand up on Avalon Pier in Kill Devil Hills, NC, the morning after Huricane Earl rolled through. I'm the photographer on the left.
They call this type of thing storm chasing. In reality though, it would be more accurate to call it storm waiting. Our crew (a reporter and two photographers including me) picked a hotel that was dead center in the path of Earl. The hotel was glad to reserve us three rooms, as they had a lot of people canceling weekend plans anyway.
We rented a silver Jeep Commander, refused the insurance (as we were told to do, but later realized we should have), loaded it with camera gear and supplies, and made the two hour drive south to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Unloading at the hotel and prepping our gear for the night, we watched people trickle out of town, like something out of a Hollywood end of the world flick. The skies were fairly calm, no rain, and the people brave enough to stay were expressionless as they nailed boards over their windows. I felt a little nervous, like I should be leaving with everyone else — leaving the quiet.
State troopers block off the highway leading into Cape Hatteras
As night fell and the eye of Earl got closer, we decided to drive to a remote part of the northern coast of North Carolina, Hatteras Village. Hatteras was evacuated the day before as meteorologists predicted that the eye would pass only 20-60 miles off its coast. State troopers had blocked off the thin strip of road that led its way into Hatteras, stopping residents from getting back in. After showing press passes, the police let us through, but not before a weird "good luck" and half-smile from the officers.