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Dorian Hits North Carolina's Outer Banks


Hurricane Dorian has now been downgraded to a Category 1 storm. But the barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, called the Outer Banks, have been hit hard by sustained hurricane-force winds. Vickie Woolard is on the line from Jarvisburg, N.C., which is on the mainland but it's connected to the outer banks by a bridge. Vickie and her husband, Scott, own a construction company. And they will be among the first people allowed back into the evacuation zone to start rebuilding.

Vickie, good morning.

VICKIE WOOLARD: Good morning.

KING: What was your night like?

WOOLARD: Oh. It was pretty good, actually. It was - you know, we definitely heard the wind and the rain, but nothing we couldn't manage. We're surrounded with trees at our home we just built. But everything looks good at this point. The winds are still howling.

KING: That's great news. What are you hearing about damage in the Outer Banks, which were particularly vulnerable?

WOOLARD: Well, I've been, you know, checking with friends on and off throughout the night via Facebook. And it appears that they're doing fairly well. I haven't heard from some people in Duck yet and Kill Devil Hills, which are supposed to get hit fairly hard. But so far, so good. I'm just kind of waiting. And the news is, you know - the TV is going on and off, so I'm not quite sure. But I'm anxious to hear how they fared.

KING: Those folks that you haven't heard from have, you not been able to reach them? Or...

WOOLARD: They just haven't been on Facebook. And I'm not sure, you know...

KING: Ah, everyone's communicating over Facebook. I see.

WOOLARD: Exactly. Yeah. Social media, got to love it.

KING: These are the days. So you and your husband run a construction business. What are you expecting will need to get done based on past experience in the Outer Banks?

WOOLARD: Well, we expect some roof damage. Definitely, you know, roof, you know, shingles are going to have to be replaced. Hopefully - I don't know what the tornadic action has been over there. But siding is typically gone, flooding. The Ocean Hill area of Corolla floods - Ocean Sands of Corolla floods, you know, very badly. I mean, we've had our crew out there with chest waders on and needed it all the way up to their shoulders...

KING: Wow.

WOOLARD: ...So - yeah. So we're expecting a lot of flooding, you know, some siding and, you know, roof repair, a lot of mold situations going on depending on how long we have to sit there. But our goal will be to get over there as quickly as possible to - so many of our clients are non-residents.

So, you know, we try to take care of their home as if it was our own. And, of course, the longer it sits, the worse it gets. So the second they let us back over, we'll be there to assess each home from the roof, you know, to the bottom.

KING: You and your husband have been in this business for almost 20 years. I wonder...


KING: ...Do you get more hurricane-related reconstruction business these days?

WOOLARD: Reconstruction as in rebuilding...

KING: Yeah.

WOOLARD: ...Of homes? We - no. We haven't had any, you know, that have been completely destroyed by the hurricane. We've had a couple of fire damages like that. But, no, mainly our revenue is maintenance and remodel. We do build new constructions. But typically, we take care of the homes, you know, with maintenance and remodel.

KING: So people are still building homes on the Outer Banks.

WOOLARD: Oh, yes.

KING: Interesting.

WOOLARD: It started back pretty well the last year. And, yeah, they're building and even across from the ocean.

KING: I wonder, though, as these hurricanes get more frequent and more serious - or they seem to be - are you concerned about the future of these beach towns on the Outer Banks? Do you ever want to say to people, hey, maybe this isn't such a great idea?

WOOLARD: Absolutely. You know, anyone who's ever ridden down the beach road, as we call it, the homes even across the street will eventually - from the ocean - will eventually be total oceanfront.

KING: Wow.

WOOLARD: That road floods so bad. I've only seen the ocean meet the sand almost once since we've been here in 20 years.

KING: And just quickly, when do you expect to be able to get into the Outer Banks? What are you looking at time wise?

WOOLARD: Our hope is to get in there Saturday morning. That's what we're expecting. But again, I haven't seen how much devastation we're facing on - you know, on the actual Dare County.

KING: Saturday morning. All right. Well, we'll check back with you then.


KING: Vickie Woolard is the co-owner of Sea Thru Construction, which will be helping rebuild after Dorian in North Carolina.

Thanks so much.

WOOLARD: Thank you so much. Take care. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.