CNN on the ground: Real Jersey shore in no hurry to evacuate; residents flee coast
August 26th, 2011
03:38 PM ET

CNN on the ground: Real Jersey shore in no hurry to evacuate; residents flee coast

Editor's Note: CNN has reporters up and down the East Coast to cover Hurricane Irene. We'll be providing updates throughout the day on the scenes they are coming across and the people they talk to.

[Updated 7:30 a.m. Saturday]

(WASHINGTON) The sun is peeking through on the National Mall in Washington. The city will resume passing out sandbags at noon. Yesterday they ran out of sandbags at 5 p.m. City residents can get five sandbags per household. For this storm, city officials are using Twitter to keep in touch with residents in addition to traditional media. Officials are using the hashtag #DCIrene on the microblogging site to get information out.

- CNN'S Eric Marrapodi

[Updated at 8:59 p.m. ET ]

(IN THE OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA) I've been feeling the storm escalate with every passing hour.  The rain is nonstop and the gale force winds are now gusting up to  tropical storm strength. This is a fraction of what's to come after dawn.  Authorities warn residents on the Outer Banks to heed the mandatory evacuation orders or risk the dangers of the storm alone.  Emergency personnel will not venture out into the storm because it's too risky.  Roads may be flooded or blocked for days after.  Everyone has been advised to be prepared to be on their own for at least 72 hours.

- CNN’s David Mattingly

[Updated at 8:30 p.m. ET ]

(SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NEW JERSEY)  This is the place where they filmed the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore”.  I was at the casino pier, which is actually like a boardwalk similar to New York's Coney Island. People were out enjoying the beach, getting tans and surfing.

With temperatures about 85 degrees,  it was a really nice day to be at the beach here. I heard Governor Chris Christie telling people to get off the beaches, but it didn’t seem to stop the people. I was told by regular beach-goers that the crowds weren’t nearly as big today. It was noticeably not crowded but it wasn’t a ghost town either.

Talking to tourists, some said they came down to enjoy the weekend and that they felt like thir trip was being cut short. One guy said he had just got to his hotel and was told they were going to close so he couldn’t even check in.

- journalist Aaron Brodie 

[Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET ]

(KILL DEVIL HILLS, NORTH CAROLINA)  After boarding up their house, a family in Kill Devil Hills left a spray-painted message for the storm on one of the boarded-up windows of their home.  "Good Night, Irene," the message said.

A sign expresses the sentiments of residents in Kill Devil Hills, N.C.

The Nags Head Fire and Rescue Department also had a message for the hurricane:  "Go Away, Irene," the message written on a bulletin board outside their building said.

A sign outside a building in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., is addressed to the storm.

We found a couple going for one last walk on the beach before the arrival of Irene.  We also found a family with two young boys flying kites there.

Drew Goulde, a Kill Devil Hills resident and a maintenance worker at the
local Ramada Inn hotel, was surfing, taking advantage of a higher-than-usual tide.

"It is fun," Goulde said.  "I'm just messing around right now.  It's kind of
heavy out there though."

He said he would have to return to work at the hotel as soon as the
hurricane makes landfall sometime on Saturday afternoon.

- CNN’s Rafael Romo

[Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET ]

(KILL DEVIL HILLS, NORTH CAROLINA)  We are on the beach.  The first outer rain is just beginning to reach us. The wind has slowly intensified, but nowhere near gale-force yet. No one is in the water, and the few people on the beach are being told not to swim.

The weather worsens at a beach in North Carolina.

I'm manning a beach camera with CNN's David Mattingly. The camera is visible at the top right, covered with a black trash bag (a preferred protection over conventional rain covers; it's more versatile). As conditions worsen, we will go to a hotel balcony overlook with drier conditions and will continue broadcasting into the night and for the duration.  We've stocked our work space with water and food (the least salty or sweet the better).

- CNN Cameraman Jay Schexnyder

[Updated at 3:38 p.m. ET ]

(STUMPY POINT, NORTH CAROLINA) Evacuating your home is never easy. And it gets a lot harder when you’re by yourself and have three toddlers in tow.

Kimberly Roehrig left her home in Stumpy Point, North Carolina. Her mom dropped her and her kids off at a specially designed county meeting point.

Here, she, Madison, 7, Faith 4, and 10-month-old Waylon would catch a county bus that will take her to a shelter off  North Carolina’s Outer Banks. She told us that she lives too close to the water.

“We boarded up, but we’re afraid it’s gonna flood,” she told CNN.

Kimberly Roehrig thinks the water may flood out her home, so she’s bringing her kids to a shelter.

“I don’t want to be there for a flood,” she said with a nervous smile.

Kimberly says she left her boyfriend behind to ride Hurricane Irene out in their home, along with their pets.

“I’m a little nervous, but as long as we have shelter, we’ll be ok,” she said.

- CNN's Rich Phillips

[Updated at 3:38 p.m. ET ]

(NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK) In a hurricane the higher you go, the stronger the wind gusts are. Construction workers have that in mind as they secure One World Trade Center in New York ahead of Irene’s arrival.

While the windows being installed on the soon-to-be tallest building in the U.S. are designed to withstand 125 mph winds they’re only in place up to the 52nd floor. Steel beams taking the place of the Twin Towers have risen to the 80th floor. The remaining upper floors are open to the elements.

Construction continues at the World Trade Center site.

That’s a serious concern because anything blown off a building from that height, even something as small as a bolt, can become a deadly projectile in a hurricane.

From now until 2 p.m. on Saturday - when all work is scheduled to be halted at the World Trade Center site - construction workers will be busy securing anything and everything.

“They are very big on safety here,” said Kelly Potts, an electrician working on One World Trade Center. “If anything is not tied down they will address it and fix it.”

She said anything loose is either being moved to lower floors or chained to steel beams.

“Loose boards, metal, anything that’s near the edge of the platform… they are going to make sure that it’s away from there and tied down.”

The construction cranes high atop the World Trade Center site will also be secured sometime Saturday. They are designed to withstand strong winds. Construction workers on the site are well aware how serious high winds are at a skyscraper under construction. While the Time Warner Center was being built a few years ago at Columbus Circle in New York a plywood board was blown off the building. It struck a man below killing him.

Listen to the full story here:

Get more CNN Radio Report podcasts on itunes or subscribe

- CNN Radio's Steve Kastenbaum

[Updated at 2:41 p.m.]

(ATLANTIC BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA) The car is packed. The house is secure.

Kim Raines and her adult son Chris Braxton are ready to leave their hometown of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, in search of higher ground.

"I haven't left in awhile," says Raines, "but this is the worse one [storm] I've ever heard of while I've been living around here so I am heading out."

Atlantic Beach is located on a barrier island and it is one of many cities in North Carolina that are under a mandatory evacuation order. That order made the decision to leave easy for Raines and her son. The difficult question came when they asked themselves what they should take with them.

"It's kind of hard going through the house and picking out stuff," Braxton said.

He remembers thinking "well what if it's not here. What do we want? What can we take with us that will fit in the car?"

It is especially difficult to decide when space is limited to that of their two door sedan. A car that would need to fit not just mom and son but also Tiny, their dog. In the end Raines and Braxton packed their most important possessions. Old family photographs. Raines was not going to leave behind baby pictures of her sons. Old pieces of art was another priority.

"Finger painting and middle school pictures," says Raines. To her they are invaluable sine the artists are Braxton and his older brother.

-  CNN Supervising Producer Kimberly Segal

[Updated at 12:37 p.m.]

(ATLANTIC CITY, NORTH CAROLINA) Three blocks from the ocean, in a mandatory evacuation area, stands a home that will be full of people when Irene comes to the coastal town of Atlantic City.

“I’ve lived on the same street for 46 years so I never leave,” says the homeowner Kendra Barrett.

Seven people will be riding out the storm with Barrett in her two-story home.

“We’ll start up upstairs and if it gets bad upstairs we’ll come downstairs,” she says adding, “But the foundation of this is concrete and the walls are cinder block.”

Kendra Barrett has decided that she and her family will ride out the storm in Atlantic City.

Instead of spending time preparing to evacuate Barrett was in her kitchen.

“I cooked all day yesterday,” she says, “I’ve got fried chicken, potato salad, egg salad, tuna salad bread, ice cream and about 10 bags of ice.”

Lindsey Dipersio, an anti-evacuee that will be staying with Barrett, also went shopping in order to shelter in place.  Aside from the usual hurricane supplies such as water, canned foods, Dipersio’s list included diapers and baby wipes.

Dipersio has two toddlers that will be riding out the storm on this barrier island, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Bogue Sound.

Barrett says she is comfortable with the children staying adding, “They really don’t have any place else to go unless they went to a shelter.”

-  CNN Supervising Producer Kimberly Segal

[Posted at 11:10 a.m. ET]

(ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY) It's a mad dash to the airport for Todd Milavec.

"Going to airport right now because I can't get through to anybody on the phone," Milavec said while jumping into a cab with his family.

Guests at Caesars Hotel & Casino head to the airport to escape Hurricane Irene.

Milavec's vacation at Caesars Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey,  has been cut short by Hurricane Irene.

Milavec is trying to get back to Detroit, Michigan, and says he will rent a car if he can't get a flight. Caesars has asked all its guests to leave the hotel on the famous boardwalk by noon Friday. Stan Bonilla isn't sure what he's in store for this weekend as he prepares to drive back to New York.

"Going to batten down the hatches on Long Island. There's a big one coming so going to get ready for it," Bonilla said while loading up his car at Caesars with his wife and toddler.

- CNN Senior Producer Eric Fiegel

soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. tricia12

    Kendra Barrett has decided not to leave and she is three blocks from the ocean. A historic storm is coming. This reminds me of when the old timer on Mt. St Helens I think he was around 70 to 80 years old refused to leave the Mountain because he had lived there all his life. Well poor old guy Mt. St Helen's blew, it was historic and he was gone. A ounce of prevention.. If something happens to her kids and she survives would this be considered child abuse or child endangerment. Will she be prosecuted? I wish her no harm but I do wish her good sense.

    August 26, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Margroks

      I agree. It is child endangerment to be that close ON THE BEACH. Some people never learn until they pay the ultimate price. I'm sorry for her children; they deserve better as do the children of the other family foolish enough to stay with her.

      August 26, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • k

      Someone should take the children from her now...that is as negligent as anything I have spending 2-days out of town really not worth your childs life?

      Luck favours the prepard I just wish stupid people did not take out others with them...

      August 26, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anna1953

      I agree, Tricia. This story makes me SICK. I live in Charleston, SC and saw what Hugo did in 1989 (although I left for a week, and only saw the aftermath). When I had a baby in 1995, we evacuated for EVERY hurricane - even that awful 24 hour drive to Atlanta in 1999 for Floyd (which ended up hitting NC). I "knew" Hugo was coming; and I felt equally certain that Floyd was not. Nevertheless, I said to myself, "This isn't about you, any more. This is about a small child, who is utterly dependent on your decisions, for her life. When in doubt, GO." How any mother could say she loves her children, and then endanger them with possibly having to live through one of the greatest terrors that life offers, or die if they are even more unfortunate, disgusts me. I think those babies need to be removed from that home IMMEDAITELY, by the Department of Social Services. It's no different from putting them out in a highway to play.

      August 26, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • rokalily

      I agree. We don't have earthquake warnings, so we cannot move out of the way. However, the warnings have been everywhere the last few days for this hurricane. This woman has been handed a gift wrapped in a huge bow - warnings to get out and save her kids' lives. It's a damn shame she's refusing it.

      August 26, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • jc the food she made to prepare is all mayonaisse based or perishable! Smart lady. Take your family & go. 2 days away isn't going to kill you, but the storm on a barrier island can. Some people don't get it. The next story about her will be either someone's dead, or an 'I told you so' repsponse from her (surrounded by devastation).

      August 26, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • SouthernCelt

      All you know about this woman is what CNN chose to tell you about her. You have no idea how her house was built or where it is built. After 46 years that house has seen a lot of Cat 3 storms and is still there. Have you ever even seen the Safir-Simpson scale? Hugo, Andrew, and Katrina were all Cat 5 storms. Irene is only Cat 3. Very BIG difference. Not life threatening. Could be educational. She sounds prepared for the aftermath which I would expect from living there 46 years.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • lucy2

      I agree it's selfish and foolish to keep children in the path of a hurricane. If an adult wants to risk their own life, that's up to them, but it's not fair to risk the kids' too. And yeah, what's with all the food that will go back really quickly when the power goes out? Ew.
      Their house may be well built, but for their sake I hope the neighboring homes are too and don't blow into them!

      August 26, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JT

    2 story cinderblock? Some beach house.

    August 26, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • SouthernCelt

      The first floor of a beach house is almost always cinder block and is almost always the garage (and usually a shower to wash off the sand). The house starts on the second floor because the first floor floods periodically. If the surge rises 4 ft. the whole county will be flooded. Hurricanes give you enough time to get out of their way. If you are there it is your own fault. I'll take a slow moving Hurricane over an earthquake, mud slide, forest fire, and general lack of local water that plagues the other coast anytime.

      August 26, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Teri

    To put two small children through a storm like this is absurd. Even if they are safe and nothing bad happens to them, those kids are likely to be scare of storms for the rest of their life. Why do that to a child?

    August 26, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • SouthernCelt

      It's evident you've never been through one.
      It may be Cat 3 out on the water but as soon as it hits land it will downgrade rapidly. Depending on their situation a Cat 3 might not be as bad as everyone is making out. We grow up with them so it is no worse than a Midwestern thunderstorm that breeds a Tornado (which you cant usually see coming), or that chaos from an earthquake. The rest of the year the beach is a great place (if you can afford to live there :-)). If your house was built right, and is above the ground instead of below it, and you have the requisite generator, chain saw, and supplies, Cat 3 is survivable. Cat 4, on the other hand and I'd go (way) inland.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • SouthernCelt

      Why put a child through tornadoes, blizzards, earthquakes, mud slides, and fires the rest of the country goes through?
      Educate them properly and it isn't an issue.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SuzyQ

    We are in west virginia and are gonna stay put. Ive run us some water in milk jugs and we have plenty of cans of cream corn. If it gets too bad well run and lay down in the ditch. Its a good safe low spot. I think we are ready.

    August 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Margroks

      The problem is that while wind blown debris is a problem, a low spot is definitely NOT where you want to be when the flood water comes to your area. You need a spot high and sturdy.

      August 26, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • SouthernCelt

      Has West Virginia ever even seen a Hurricane (except on TV)?

      August 26, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |

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    August 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • REClizbe

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      August 26, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AM

    People need some serious common sense, or a good old fashioned smack upside their heads. When they are told a devastating storm is coming and a mandatory evacuation is underway...LEAVE! Don't play with you life, or the lives of others like that. Cinder block home just means more to crush you with, doesn't mean it's safer. Use the common sense the Good Lord gave you for pete's sake. Get the heck out of Dodge! Do it now before you end up like those folks from Katrina who didn't leave and were found on their roof tops waving flags trying to get help to leave AFTER THE FACT.

    August 26, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • CJA

      I wonder if those cinder blocks are fully grouted and have steel in them. If so the house is a bomb shelter. If not you can literally kick down a cider block wall one block at a time with your foot. Fully grouted means they pour concrete and place a steel rod down each hole. It's expensive but if they don't do this is mostly just gravity that holds the wall up, mortar adds very little strength.

      August 26, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • SouthernCelt

      Most of New Orleans is below the water line. Dumb place to build a house. You'll notice the Old Quarter didn't have as many issues. Build your house right and stock up, and I'll take our weather over yours anytime.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. scorzi

    AM: Most of the Katrina victims were from poor areas where there was no public transportation to leave, and the mayor didn't tell everyone to leave as soon as they are doing now. I know some people stayed because they wanted to, but they had a famous shot of a parking lot underwater with tons of empty school buses submerged in water. They didn't have the state funds to use them for evacuation, so a lot of people died in the Lower Ninth Ward. It's easier to leave if you live in Boston or NYC because of the public transportation. If you're poor and have no car and no one you know as a car in Louisiana, where are you going to run to?

    August 26, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Proud of our State

      I am a native Louisianian. The reason the "poor" people didn't get out of New Orleans prior to Katrina making landfall was because they have become so used to the "guvment" taking care of them that they can no longer take care of themselves. Well, that and we had an idiot for a Governor at the time!

      August 26, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • dustbuny

      Scorzi – I, too, am a native Louisianian. Quit commenting on events you know nothing about. For your information, the governor and mayor (who were both idiots, by the way) DID go on tv days before the storm and beg people to leave. they were offered free transportation to safety if they didn't have cars or a way to get out. Most of the "poor" in this town have cars, but they have been so brainwashed by Democrat give-aways for generations that they now have the IQs of house plants and have NO idea how to fend for themselves. Don't believe me? Come down here to live for six months.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. KC

    If you can afford to move out of the way, you should go. It's the aftermath that can be the most miserable. If you don't have power, you better be prepared to suffer in the heat. It will be weeks and even months before people will get power again. Just ask the folks down here in Texas after Hurricane Ike. Thank God we had line trucks from all over the U.S. working overtime just to restore power. I hope the storm swerves east because I don't wish Hurricane destruction on anyone.

    August 26, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. C

    How can it be a MANDATORY evacuation if people can CHOOSE to stay? For the people on Atlantic Beach, please decide to go somewhere safer than your home... that is what shelters are for. You can always return home after the fact but ride the storm out where your children will be safe. I hope CNN follows up on this family in a few days. I hope their home is still standing.

    August 26, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      I lived on Florida's west coast for 24 years and a mandatory evacuation means that if you choose to ignore it that you are aware that no one will come to rescue you when you suddenly decide it was a really stupid decision. First responders and the National Guard will not put themselves at risk to save you once you've ignored a mandatory evacuation order. Which is as it should be.

      August 26, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Laura

    Wow. A whole 3 blocks from the storm and in a cinderblock house. I seem to recall damage 12 MILES inland from Hurricane Andrew. These are the first people who will be screaming when the worst happens and no one comes to save their stupid asses. If those kids get hurt, their parents should be brought up on charges. Providing they live through Irene.

    August 26, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • SouthernCelt

      Cat 3, remember? Doesn't knock walls down unless it pushes a tree through it. Not many trees at the beach. Flooding is likely but that is why cinder blocks (reinforced and on good foundations) are used for the first floor. No damage from water.
      They leave because their won't be any power, water supplies will be questionable, and you won't be able to get to the grocery store going through the same issues. If your supplies make you self sufficient for a week, go for it.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • SouthernCelt

      BTW, Andrew was Cat 5 or better, not Cat 3. BIG difference.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Hasselhoff

    This is going to be interesting because a lot of people are staying. Good luck folks. We'll see you on the news...

    August 26, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Derek

    It's a freakin' dying storm. Rain, high winds and lightning (maybe). If you live in a decently built house, stay indoors and away from the windows, you'll be fine. Enough of the freakin' hysteria. NY isn't Florida or the islands. Get a grip folks and stop living in such fear!

    August 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. lis

    I'm very tempted to look Ms. Kendra Barrett up in the phone book and knock some sense into her! C'mon, there are children involved here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 26, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • SouthernCelt

      Maybe someone should do the same to you. Learn something about weather. NOAA has a great site ( Irene is currently a Cat 3 storm with winds gusting to 115 mph. Cat 3 goes from 100 to 130 so Irene is barely a Cat Three storm. More like a strong Cat 2, which I have seen and found very instructional.
      Very much like a strong Chicago Thunderstorm which I don't see you or CNN getting bent out of shape over. If you don't like our weather, stay where you are and we'll both be happy.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SC Native

    This is disturbing. It's one thing to stay and ride the storm out if youre' at least several miles off the beach in a sound structure and you're an adult, but to stay on a freakin gbarrier island with children?? Come on, people. That's just stupid and reckless. I sure hope they stay safe but they are in terrible danger.

    August 26, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kindasorta

    Well at least with a hurricane you get plenty of advance notice unlike a tornado. Not to take advantage of it is foolish! If the hurricane don't kill them her cooking will when it spoils from lack of refrigeration when the lights go out. The will go out, and it doesn't sound like she has common sense. I pray they will survive both the hurricane and any food poisoning.

    August 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
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