My Hurricane History

We are feeling very relieved and thankful that the forecast for the track of Hurricane Matthew now does not include our area.  But, as promised, today I’m sharing some memories I have of past hurricanes that have affected southeast Virginia.

The first hurricane that I recall was Donna in September, 1960. I was a little girl, and my mom had just severely broken her ankle that summer and was still in a cast.  During the storm, we stayed with my grandmother, who lived about a half mile from our house. What I remember about the storm was: my grandmother’s bathroom floor flooded,  a nearby mobile home lost its roof, and there seemed to be power lines on the ground everywhere.

The next hurricane that comes to mind was Camille in 1969.  This storm went west of us and flooded areas in the mountains of Virginia.  I recall riding the Jamestown ferry days later and seeing debris from the western part of our state floating in the river.

Hurricane Gloria threatened our area in 1985, but at the last minute, she went out to sea. Thankfully, we didn’t need the bathtub full of water we had drawn.

The next major hurricane was Floyd in 1999. That storm caused severe flooding in our area and washed out roads in the county.


I’m not sure if you can tell the extent of damage in this next picture, taken in neighboring Surry county.  While there’s a vehicle shown in the above photo, a house could easily have fit in the area washed away here.  The frightening part is that Marshall, a teenager at the time, had visited a friend just a few miles from here earlier in the evening.


Then, came Isabel in 2003. I’d say that Isabel was the strongest hurricane that I recall. I’m not sure if she was even a Category 1 by the time she made it to our area; she was possibly “just” a strong tropical storm. But we lost over 20 tall pine trees in our yard, had flooding up to our deck, and lost electricity for several days.

Here’s our side yard just after Isabel:

And this is a recent photo I took of that same area – under normal conditions.



Isabel also wreaked havoc on the old “Brick Church” cemetery near Bacon’s Castle.  It was heartbreaking to see all the damage to the ruins of the old church and the tombstones.

Hurricane Sandy in 2012 caused us no damage except tidal flooding (and the following clean-up) here at home and more serious flooding in the Outer Banks.

Just last year, October of 2015, Hurricane Joaquin brought more tidal flooding to our area, but in the Outer Banks, washed away part of the highway in the Kitty Hawk area.

db and ocean wash 10-5-2015 2-50-00 PM

All of my hurricane memories are of strong tropical storms, perhaps a Category 1 storm. I cannot even begin to imagine a Cat 4 (or 5) hurricane.  We are keeping our neighbors to the south close in thought.  And although major damage seems imminent, we’re praying for a miracle to take Matthew out to sea.

~These Days Of Mine~

15 responses to “My Hurricane History

  1. I have lots of memories of bad storms too – including a Cat 5 typhoon that hit the island of Taiwan in 1960 one day after my family arrived for my Dad’s 2-year tour of duty there! It was named Typhoon Pamela (seriously)…..I certainly make an impact wherever I go don’t I? We pray for those south of us……this is a bad storm but I heard this morning that it will not make landfall in Florida….just graze the coast……thankfully.


  2. I too remember the storms you’ve mentioned this morning – and a band Ash Wednesday storm. I remember seeing trees down everywhere. I’m so thankful that Matthew seems to be sparing us. My prayers go out to the people south of us and the Caribbean.

  3. band should have been bad – OOPS

  4. Water can be calming most days and nights, but it can do some incredible things when stirred up.

  5. Goodness, you certainly have been through a lot of hurricanes. I’m thankful you and your family survived them.
    I’m glad Hurricane Matthew has turned and is going back out away from shore. I hope he blows himself out soon.

  6. Yikes, you have had more than your fair share of hurricanes and their effects. I’ve never experienced one I’m glad to say but my scary nature remembrances are of tornadoes, ice storms, wind storms, and even a mild earthquake or two. Reminds me of how vulnerable we are and how much we need to pray for those who are riding out the storm.

  7. What an impact these pictures had! First hurricane I remember is Donna too, memorable because it was the first time I was scared in my own safe childhood home with my invincible parents. Worried about, like you, our neighbors in the South, including my youngest sister Terri. Lives in Neptune Beach, East of Jacksonville, a coffee cup walk to the beach. She already lost a papaya tree in her yard Wednesday, and under mandatory evacuation has gone inland with her Virginia beagle to be safe with a lovely family. Praying for their and all to be safe. Nature, a joy and a terror at times.

  8. So happy you dodged this terrible storm. Thinking of all the people that it is going to touch and hope that they will be safe.

  9. I remember Hurricane Donna W….I mean Hurricane Donna. I remember water coming in around the windows and doors and we were up all night putting towels around them. I remember being scared. As usual, mom was a little impatient about my fear! She was the bravest woman I have ever known. She was not afraid of anything and tried to teach me not to be fearful. I am grateful, for without that I’m afraid I would have been a total wimp.

  10. This is a very well put together post ..
    Floyd and Isabel are the two I remember most. So much rain before Isabel, all those trees just couldn’t hang on ..
    & that road during Floyd.. well.. anybody traveling that road that night was lucky …

  11. Shirley Matthews Dunn

    We never know what the storms will bring around here, for the most part we all have been blessed over the years. I am praying that continues and for the places that are being hit. Everyone be safe,

  12. The first I one I remember was Hurricane Hazel in 1956. I was 5 or 6 but remember my Daddy going out to put chains around a tree and pulled it back with a tractor to keep it from hitting the house. We had lots of sheds, chicken houses, etc and they all blew away. Only the barn and a tin carport remained. The main memory is that my Mama cat was in one of those sheds with kittens and I was devastated. The next morning I was at the window with trees down, lots of debrie and the Mama cat jumped on the porch with her kittens. Happy ending and I was probably the happiest little girl in Surry.

  13. I remember Isabel. Went over to Mom’s to spend the night with her, and ended up there for a week. Lots of memories of that time. She just told people ” we’re just camping out”. Of course I was cooking and heating water on small grill on the deck. She had a flashlight for her devotions and faith that all would be okay.

  14. Never been near a hurricane and these pictures confirm I must remember to keep out of their way. Hope all is well with you and yours and any family and friends in the path of the hurricane.

  15. Gloria was our first experience with a hurricane. That was scary enough as we sat up most of the night listening to the wind and WCMS emergency broadcasting on the battery-powered radio. Like you, I can’t imagine getting hit by a more powerful storm.

Waiting for your comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.