On September 6, 2019 Hurricane Dorian came ashore on Ocracoke Island, where I have lived for over 40 years. Seven feet of water in two hours! The shock of great loss struck us all—with the power of water earning a new respect from people who already knew its power well.
Then cleanup began. Houses, cars, storage sheds, businesses, boats and yards—flooded, changed, or ruined. Our village and many who love this fifteen-mile-long island began to work and haven’t stopped since. People came to help with rebuilding and feeding our town. As historic buildings were lost, I simply began to photograph the emptiness left behind. Without the structures, how will the stories live on? I felt the emptiness both inside and outside.
The Outer Banks of North Carolina have been changed by many storms throughout history. Change is the nature of this group of barrier islands—where shipwrecks and new inlets have often been left by hurricanes. As we rebuild we are often overcome by grief, gratitude for all of the help, and hope that we can build a future again. We are still being challenged, and we know how much we need each other.