Hurricane Arthur brushes past Brunswick County

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By Brian Slattery

Hurricane Arthur passed by Thursday, July 3, leaving all of Brunswick County with varying levels of rain throughout the day but no significant damage.

The hurricane reached Category 1 status with 90 mph winds as it traveled northeast along the Brunswick County coast Thursday.

But the eye of the storm remained about 45 miles offshore, which put the outer rain bands spinning through the county for much of the day.

Forecasts for Thursday and Thursday night anticipated sustained winds of 40 to 55 mph, with gusts in the 60 mph range along the coast, but town officials in many municipalities said winds only reached speeds in the mid-30s.

Hurricane Arthur hit North Carolina’s Outer Banks that night, causing coastal flooding from storm surges and heavy rainfall.

Brunswick County declared a state of emergency Thursday as a precaution. County offices as well as the Brunswick County Courthouse and Brunswick Senior Resources Inc. senior centers closed early.

The state of emergency was lifted early Friday morning, July 4.

Brunswick County Public Information Officer Amanda Hutcheson reported no damage in Brunswick County and said any flooding on roads was minimal.

The only lingering threat to the county was rip currents Friday and through the weekend because of the storm’s effects.

Emergency services vehicles were called to Ocean Isle Beach on Thursday evening when a concerned citizen saw a local surfer in the water near the water tower on the west end of the island and thought he was in danger.

Several vehicles and a boat responded to the call, but the surfer, Aaran Chaney, who was in the water with three companions, returned to shore and was never in danger.

Ocean Isle Beach Planning Director Justin Whiteside said the town came through the hurricane’s storms no worse for wear.

“It went as good as it possibly could,” Whiteside said. “We were open all day.”

Whiteside added the beach had no erosion issues because of the storm.

“We were extra fortunate with this only being a minor inconvenience for the holiday weekend,” he said.

Assistant town Administrator Larry Sellers estimated the rainfall in the town at just under 3 inches and they only experienced 35 mph winds.

“It was just a bad storm,” Sellers said.

Towns in the southern end of the county reported more rainfall throughout the day Thursday, but Sunset Beach Town Administrator Susan Parker said a post-storm assessment Monday, July 7, showed the town experienced very little effect.

“The beach did very well, no erosion and no beach debris,” she said. “And there was no damage to our walkway or gazebo.”

The beach strand trash cans and public restroom facilities were removed from the island before the storm’s arrival and replaced Friday.

“The restrooms, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) says we need to remove them twice a year. So that was a good exercise,” Parker said.

By Friday, Parker said, visitors were waiting in line to get back on the beach.

“We were at full capacity Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” she said.

Shallotte town administrator Albert Hughes said despite an all-day rain, the hurricane was “a non-event for us.”

Hughes estimated the town received more than 3 inches of rain but it didn’t cause any problems on the roads.

The rain might have washed away some of the mulch recently put down with the flowers that are part of a beautification project.

“The dry weather did more harm (to the flowers). They need rain,” Hughes said. “I’m glad there’s no more to report but I’m glad it was not a big deal.”

The storm caused the cancelation of some pre-Fourth of July holiday events, however,

Summerfest featuring music by Sea Cruz was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Rourk Gardens in Shallotte, but was canceled because of the constant rain throughout the day Thursday and forecasts of wind gusts up to 50 mph.

Calabash's Summer Concert in the Park was also canceled Thursday night.

Leland Human Resources Director Christa Dees, who served as the town’s contact during the storm, said the northern Brunswick County town saw the worst rain and wind after 6:30 p.m. but didn’t receive any reports of damage.

In neighboring Belville, town administrator Athina Williams said after driving around the town limits to perform a damage assessment, there was only some light vegetative debris and small tree limbs down.

“That was mostly concentrated at the (Brunswick) riverwalk (at Belville) park,” she said.

In Southport, City Manager Kerry McDuffie reported some isolated power outages for short periods of time and a couple downed trees, but no major damage because of the hurricane.

“We had a whole day of rain that at times was pretty heavy,” McDuffie said. “We had steady bands of rain but no flood damage. I’m not aware of any erosion issues specific to the storm.”

He added they were fortunate to not have any major problems affect the annual North Carolina 4th of July Festival in Southport.

Oak Island Town Manager Steve Foster said if they had any erosion, it was not severe.

“We were really lucky,” Foster said, adding there were no reports of damage to roads or structures

Brian Slattery is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.