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Before and after photos show what Hurricane Florence did to Outer Banks’ Cape Lookout

Before (left) and after (right) photos show Hurricane Florence’s impact included multiple breeches of water through the upper part of South Core Banks. The “cuts” have forced the National Park Service to close some areas to travelers indefinitely.
Before (left) and after (right) photos show Hurricane Florence’s impact included multiple breeches of water through the upper part of South Core Banks. The “cuts” have forced the National Park Service to close some areas to travelers indefinitely.

Cape Lookout National Seashore has posted a series of before and after photos, showing the lasting damage Hurricane Florence created when it sent storm surge flowing across the barrier islands.

In one of the most telling comparisons, the upper part of the South Core Banks is seen covered with water, after Hurricane Florence over wash created three flowing “cuts” through the island north of Ramp 25.

“Although we fully expect these three breeches or ‘cuts’ through the island to close on their own, it will take some time for natural sediments to fill in these low spots,” said the National Park Service in an Oct. 6 Facebook post. “These areas are why the beach north of ramp 25 on South Core Banks is closed to driving.”

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Before and after photos released by the National Park Service at Cape Lookout show how sand washed across Cape Lookout, creating a “tongue” of land on the opposite side of the island. Cape Lookout National Seashore

In another pair of photos, taken from atop the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, the National Park Service shows how the storm sent over wash completely across the island, flattening dunes and sending sand from the ocean out into the sound on the opposite side of the island.

“A large over wash fan can be seen coming almost all the way across the island,” park officials said of the photo.

“On the sound side, a small tongue of sand has been carried into the sound waters where the over wash came out of the marsh.”

A frosting of sand now covers the northern tip of the island, and the salt and sand appears to have affected the trees, which have taken on a brownish color.

Trees have been similarly discolored at the neighboring Cape Hatteras National Seashore and park officials there explained on Facebook: “The pine trees that are showing brown or dead needles are a direct result of salty ocean spray as a result of Hurricane Florence. Pines (which drink water through their needles) do not tolerate salt well, resulting in these brown needles.”

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Top photo shows the beach east of Cape Lookout Lighthouse before Florence, and the bottom photo shows the aftermath, with sand covering marsh and grassland. National Park Service

Hurricane Florence made good on predictions that it would “pile up water” along the North Carolina coast.

It made landfall in North Carolina on Sept. 14 with 100 mph winds in some areas, and storm surge in the 13-foot range.

The waves erased part of N.C. 12, the highway linking the state’s barrier islands, and the storm broke multiple tide records. In some areas, ocean waters rose 4 feet above the normal high tide, reported the National Weather Service.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore was closed for weeks as a result of damage that included the storm “filling in” the Long Point harbor needed to ferry visitors to and from such areas as the North Core Banks.

The Cape Lookout Lighthouse was damaged and out of service for two weeks, and historic sites such as Portsmouth Village, an abandoned fishing village, sustained damage to multiple buildings.

Much of the damage to historic sites has been repaired and the Long Point harbor was dredged, allowing ferry travel to resume, the park service said on Facebook.

Florence caused flooding and damaged fencing, and swept debris and beach sand inland, in Avon, an Outer Banks community in North Carolina, on Sept. 14, 2018.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs
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