Hurricane warnings remained in effect on Friday in North Carolina, and evacuations were underway in many coastal regions. Fox News Channel's senior national correspondent, John Roberts, stepped away from his live coverage of the mandatory evacuations in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to answer a few questions for The Huffington Post.
Q&A With John Roberts:
- You've mentioned that the mandatory evacuations from Kitty Hawk began at 8am this morning, what has been the mood among those people as they make their way to safer locations?
“There's a sense of resignation among visitors that their vacations had to be cut short. No one I talked to seemed to mind too much. I recall vacationing on the Outer Banks some years back when we were threatened by 2 hurricanes. The thought of having to leave behind a vacation I had planned for all year was quite distressing. You think "I worked all year for these two weeks and now there's a storm???" But then again, I was dumb enough to book a vacation in a place that gets hurricanes. Most locals I talked to said they were going to stay. A few initially bragged that they were going to ride it out, then admitted they would probably leave. The ones I felt bad for were those who couldn't afford to go."
- How have local businesses been affected by the sudden evacuations and looming storm?
“This place is literally a ghost town. Almost everything is closed. When you only have 12 or 14 weeks to make your bank for the year, losing even one weekend is a huge blow. Depending on the level of damage here, next week and the Labor Day weekend could be gone too. That would really be a terrible blow.”
- North Carolina is no stranger to hurricanes, have you found the population to be more concerned about this one than others in the past?
“Yesterday, when the storm was a cat 3, they were very concerned. Now that it has diminished in intensity somewhat, they're not as anxious. They do, however fear for the southern facing beaches on the Outer Banks. Irene is pushing a lot of water and will most likely do a lot of damage down there. Don't forget, the water typically does more damage than the wind in a hurricane.”
- Has traffic congestion been a problem for the evacuees?
“No problem at all. There was the typical jam up from Corolla, through Duck and Southern Shores to get on the causeway yesterday, but today it was very light.”
- What protection measures have people taken to secure their properties/houses before they left?
“Many of them have boarded up windows and secured anything that might fly around in the wind. Businesses have boarded up their storefronts and sandbagged the doors. But the majority of homes here have nothing other than the protection that most are built on 8 to 10 foot stilts. There's a lot of glass here that could be shattered.”
- What kinds of things did people take with them? Survival materials or also sentimental things?
“Since most people are vacationers, they took what they brought. Residents took important papers, photos and other mementos.”
- Have you heard of people having to leave their pets behind? What have they done with them?
“I have not heard of anyone having to leave a pet behind. We saw a lot of that after Hurricane Katrina when buses evacuated stranded residents. I recall one particular moment when a small dog was pawing the door of a bus trying to get back with its owner. The bus drove away without it. It was heartbreaking. We got hundreds of calls about it from viewers who were outraged at the insensitivity. Because of that shot, officials changed the policy and allowed people to take their pets on the buses. On the Outer Banks, most people here evacuated in their own vehicles, so they could take anything they could carry.”
Read tips on how to care for your pets during a hurricane here.
WATCH Roberts report on the storm: