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Thousands Decide to Ride Out Hurricane on Outer Banks With AM-Hurricane Bob, Bjt

August 19, 1991

NAGS HEAD, N.C. (AP) _ Nat Jackson has seen more hurricanes than he can count, and on Sunday he saw no reason to flee as Hurricane Bob approached the Outer Banks.

″I’m 63 years old and I was born and raised here,″ Jackson said by telephone from his home on Ocracoke Island. ″I’ve seen a lot of them come and go. If it’s my home, where am I going to run to?″

Many people heeded official warnings and fled the narrow barrier-beach islands that make up the Outer Banks, but Jackson and many others decided to ride out the storm.

About 50,000 of 100,000 people on the Outer Banks remained, said Gwen White, a Dare County spokeswoman. She said it’s not unusual for that many people to stay.

Bumper-to-bumper traffic carried tourists, fishermen and campers off the Outer Banks - and with good reason. History has recorded storms powerful enough to cut new inlets through the strips of sand.

Jackson said he has ridden out his share of tough storms. Hurricane Hazel in 1954 sticks out in his mind.

″Hazel was as bad a one as I’ve seen,″ Jackson said. ″The water was 6 to 7 feet deep. The home I was born in had plugs in the floor, plugging water out of holes. The water pressure under the house built up so much we had to unplug it and let it through to hold the house down on its blocks.″

The water filled up above his waist and Jackson said he left water lines on the walls to remind the owners how dangerous a hurricane can be. He says he only buys cheap carpets because they routinely get ruined by stormwater.

Lydia Tillett, a longtime resident of the Roanoke Island town of Manteo, at the northern end of the Outer Banks, called the storm ″much ado about nothing.″

″I’m not going anywhere,″ she said. ″My house has been there 90 years ... It would surprise me if we got much out of this storm. I’ve lived here 55 years and it’s never flooded here. I’m not going anywhere.″

Buffy Warner was throwing a ″Surf’s Up″ party at his Howard’s Pub, the oldest tavern on Ocracoke Island. He said he probably would ride out the storm there, saying it’s about 9 feet higher than his home.

″We’re toying with the idea that if the water gets high that we’ll keep serving past 2 a.m.,″ Warner said.

High surf drew some surfers and wind surfers, some of whom traveled hours to get here.

″Call us the Grateful Bob guys,″ said Walt Stone of Chesapeake, Va., comparing the surfers to Deadheads who follow the Grateful Dead rock group around the country.

″It’s almost cult-like,″ said Ken Kellar, also of Chesapeake. ″We’re hoping we can get off work tomorrow and follow the storm up to Chesapeake.″

Kellar added: ″There are some people at work who think I’m an idiot.″

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