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Tayfromcarolina

Blast From the Past Hurricane Fran

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On the evening of September 5th 1996 a category 3 hurricane made landfall near Wilmington and plowed a path inland over the triangle area causing widespread wind damage and flooding. Winds were still at hurricane force as the storm made it's way into the triangle and over 10" of rain was reported in spots. What are your memories of the storm? And if a similar situation were to happen today how would the triangle fare?

I was 13 at the time and we were out of school over a week in Wake County. I still remember the smell of pine trees the next day. It was unbelievable.

Fran was a large Hurricane about the size of Texas

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Wind Chart During Fran

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Clean up took many months

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My memories? I remember feeling my whole house "jump" under me as trees hit it. I remember so much water pouring through my den ceiling that it was spinning the ceiling fan. I remember my husband and I moving 1/2 the furniture to one side of the house and looking at it the next morning and thinking "how did we lift that?". I remember hearing the oddly reassuring voice of Greg Fischell from the battery operated radio at 3am, just glad to know that other people were out there. Then I remember WRAL putting the song "Macarena" on, when there was nothing else to say and my husband and I dancing around on our soggy living room carpet....what else could we do. I remember playing gin rummy in our room waiting for it to be morning so we could go inspect the rest of the yard (we lost 12 trees, 4 on the house). ANd mostly, I remember cutting a deal with my insurance company that I would not file a complaint with the State insurance Commission (which the Dept. of Insurance had asked me to do) if they would just pay me what my builder had estimated so I could start reconstruction, for God's sake!

Ah, such memories. My husband knows well, now, that if there is EVER another storm coming ANYWHERE NEAR HERE, I am packing up the kids and dog and getting the Hell OUT!

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I was living in Turlington Hall at NC State University when Fran hit. I was lucky to have a corner room and watched the hurricane from inside the comfort of my dorm room. Turlington Hall is a 3 story brick residential hall built in 1909 or so...so it was VERY sturdy...the building never shook. I do remember people streaking on the quad in front of my residence hall...but they stoped that as soon as some of the trees on the quad started falling down onto the sidewalks. Somehow NC State never lost power during or after the storm, so I was able to watch WRAL broadcasting live across the street from me on Western Blvd the whole time.

Fran reminded me a lot of Hurricane Hugo which I experienced in Charlotte. That was a lot scarier for me than Fran was.

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I remember thinking to myself, living on Flint Place (T's at Ashe Ave.) as an NCSU student , my god, how did we survive this storm in the splinter shack we're living in (at the time)? There was an old pecan tree right beside the house that would have easily crushed through the roof if it would have fallen down. Several oaks fell on just our street alone, one across the hood of this poor bloke's dodge as it entirely blocked off the street from Ashe Ave.

Then I remember smoking lots of weed and walking over to inspect the damage on campus and in adjacent areas. On the Court of the Carolinas, there was a massive downed willow oak that more adenterous folks than I were climbing up, bouncing up and down on stronger limbs.

That night, we drove to Chapel Hill to see a friend's band play, weaving across the pine-strewn highway. It was a pretty crazy time. Lots of friends didn't get power back for two weeks. We were lucky-ours was back on the next morning :shades:

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I still remember the smell of pine trees the next day.

I had forgotten all about that smell the next day but now I remember it all too well.

I think I was about the same age as you when it hit. My school was also closed for a week and we also didn't have power for a week. I remember the power flashed on that Friday after the storm had passed, which was a couple days later I think, around 7pm and it was on for maybe 45 seconds and then it flashed off and stayed off for several more days. It was ridiculous.

I also remember the new TGIF line-up was going to premiere that night and I was pissed about missing it :rofl:

Anyway, here's just some of my experience: I didn't understand how bad it was going to be, but I don't think anyone did. At the time my family lived in a mobile home. I went to sleep as it was coming in and in the middle of the night I was awakened by loud wind and shaking. The entire trailer was shaking. Swaying back and forth. It was terrifying. It was also pitch black except for the light from a candle because there was no power. It was like an earthquake everytime a big gust of wind blew. I was scared to death, and my mom decided we needed to get out of there and go to my aunt's house which was just down the road. My dad decided to stay. We got ready and as soon as we walked outside it felt like we were going to get blown away. I remember looking around at all the trees, mostly pines, they were just slinging everywhere. There were limbs and leaves all over the yard, to the point where you couldn't see the grass. The rain smacked against us and the wind made it almost impossible for me to walk.

We got in the car and started heading down the road. The road was littered with leaves and limbs and sometimes the wind would blow so far it seemed like we were going to get blown off the road. As we got closer to my aunt's house, where there was more trees, there was more limbs and leaves. My aunt's house is heavily wooded and has trees all around it. We pull in the drive way and there are HUGE limbs in it that we have to dodge. We pull all the way up and park, get out and walk to the door. My aunt has this stone walk way and I just remember all the limbs and stuff on it, her porch too. We walk up the steps and my mom knocks loudly.

She came right to the door. Turns out my mom had called her to let her known we were coming.

We go inside. Once inside there was finally peace and I begin to calm. My cousin was there, he's a few years older than me. He was asleep on the couch. My aunt made us a place to sleep, me on the other couch. I don't know how, but I feel asleep pretty quick. They had a radio playing with the news on it in the kitchen and I caught bits and pieces of it about all the reports of damage from the coast. One I do remember that stuck out was "Topsail Island has been split in three." The next morning I got up before anyone else. Daylight had just broken. Everything was quite. I walked to the back door, which had a view of the woods behind her mouse, and I was amazed. There were MASSIVE oaks, just all on top of each other, down from their roots. My go over and wake up my cousin and say "come look at this!" He follows me and looks. He finally says with a laugh "I take it we don't have school today."

He opens the door and the smell of pine hits us like a brick wall. Not just the smell of pine, just that after hurricane smell. Anyone who has experienced a hurricane knows what I'm talking about.

My aunt and mom come down and see the damage. So did my Uncle. We were all amazed at the damage. My mom called my dad (it's great that phone lines are underground, isn't it?) and he was already awake and fine. He said there was hardly no damage which amazed me (and when I saw it later, there wasn't really. A couple small trees down, pieces of the fence blown down, the antenna blown off the roof and some random limbs and leaves in the yard but that was it -- no real damage).

Even more amazing that despite all the trees around my aunt's house, many of which fell, not one hit her house or the cars.

It's an experience that really can't be put into words... and it's also one that to this day was so unbelievable.

If I get time I'll type more about the experience later, but that's the story of what happened during the storm.

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The main thing I remember is I was a sophmore in HS, was 15, living in Hillsborough. We had a septic tank so lost power meant no water. So my mom and I stayed in Durham with family for the week we were without power and my mom drove me out to Hillsborough everyday for school, then drove back to Durham where she worked. It sucked. We had a tree fall down...on a neighbors storage shed, but aside from that all our trees were ok. Thank God we didn't have any pines, I think they were all oaks.

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I did not live in NC in 1996. But my parents live in Greensboro. They typically lose 1 or 2 pine trees a winter. They lost SIX from Fran.

I was in Raleigh in 1988 or 89 when the tornado tore through North Hills. I lived in Five Points at the time, and even there, it was so unusually windy - and the sky full of lightning I got up from bed, and stood on the porch and watched it around 1 AM. (Little did I realize there was a tornado a few miles away.)

Now I know - lots of wind, lightning, and very little rain is a BAD sign.

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That wind chart is not right!

It has the winds stronger along the central NC coast than it did in Wilmington area. The winds in the Raleigh and Wilson area were also stronger than at the central coastal areas...(Craven and Carteret co.s)

Besides, the winds in Raleigh were well over 100 MPH. I lived in New Bern then. That chart shows the winds near 100 mph...yeah right. My winds only gusted in the 60 mph range in New Bern. Very little damage as well.

The strongest winds were from Wilmington up I-95 and 40 to raleigh.

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Well, I can't find anything supporting what I say. But I thought I read it somewhere.

They said New Bern, where I lived at the time had wind gust over 100mph. Sure did not seem that bad. New Bern had very few trees down. I guess it had to do with Bertha that hit just a couple months before.

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That wind chart is not right!

It has the winds stronger along the central NC coast than it did in Wilmington area. The winds in the Raleigh and Wilson area were also stronger than at the central coastal areas...(Craven and Carteret co.s)

Besides, the winds in Raleigh were well over 100 MPH. I lived in New Bern then. That chart shows the winds near 100 mph...yeah right. My winds only gusted in the 60 mph range in New Bern. Very little damage as well.

The strongest winds were from Wilmington up I-95 and 40 to raleigh.

I know the author of that chart, and I can assure you that it is pretty accurate.

JB

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Thanks for the topic and posts on this. I often ask people I know about Fran who lived here through that. Usually when you ask 5 different people about weather in NC, you get 5 different answers. Not with Fran---everyone I've spoken with has about the same view on it.

I didn't live in NC at the time of Fran, but the area was on my radar of places I would consider moving to after finishing w/ my degree. I remember the stories that were airing nationally. I remember thinking to myself at the time---"I'm not sure about living in a hurricane zone". Well, the pull was too much--and here I am.

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The *eye* of Fran seemed to follow the I-40 corridor, but the strongest winds of a hurricane are to the east of the eye wall. Winds are also stronger along the coast, because they are not impeded by trees, buildings, etc. found on land vs. the warm gulf waters. Near-hurricane force (74 mph) gusts were recorded at RDU airport, but not "100 mph+".

I was lucky to not have any trees fall on my house or any of the houses near me. My neighbor at the time lost a *huge* pecan tree and a smaller tree between our houses that luckily fell perpendicular between us. We lost power for almost two weeks, despite being a few blocks from NC State (lost power for maybe a few hours) and Cameron Village (which had power restored in about 3 days). Not having power led to a lot of eating (and drinking) out, for better or worse. We didn't loot or get (or expect) hand outs.

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I question the wind chart myself. There were swaths of damage especially from Johnston county through downtown Raleigh north and westward toward the airport were I'm sure the gusts were in the 80 and 90 mph range. Because all trees for several yards were flat.

Interesting experiences to say the least. WoW!!

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I was also at NCSU during Fran....Lee Hall.

Craziest thing was people was out there in the storm mudsliding down a hill! RA's were screaming at them from the balconies to get inside but they wouldn't...even though there were these huge oak trees that could easily have a limb snap and hurt someone. Go fig.

Then, at 3am, water got into the fire alarm system and made it go off....and we HAD to evacuate into the storm! We crowded into Sullivan Hall's lobby. Which was flooded up to your ankles. And there was a computer lab next to it...with tons of wires everywhere. It's amazing there wasn't massive deaths on West Campus that night. Crazy.

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I think the wind chart is right. I think that Raleigh winds only got into the upper 70's. It had rained so much during the previous 10 days that the trees toppled easily.

Check out my car that got schmushed by trees, at Raleighing.

fran2.jpg

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I remember that hurricane season. It started with Bertha. I remember watching all of the news channels and waiting for landfall. I have been though a few before but I wasn't really old enough and plus the damage wasn't that bad. But Fran on the other hand was a different story. My wife was in Fayetteville in our very first apartment. It was actually a Confederate army hospital that was converted to apartments. She loved but the locals say it was haunted but anyway we were in a meeting and one of the speakers came in the room and said if anyone is from NC you need to call home now. I was like what is going on. I called my mom who lives in Clinton then my wife. My mom said the bridge down the road from her was washed out and the the whole southern half of the street leading out of town was a lake. My wife said she has never experienced anything like that before in her life. The power was out and the 150 year old oak tree outside of the building crashed into the northern end of the building. She also said the lightening was so intense she didn't need power to see. It took a week for my parents to get to her and they only live 25 miles away. Speaking of monster storms check out what we had to deal with in the south pacific. The yellow arrow is where were we lived and the red arrow is the storm track. Typhoons like this would hit us at least twice a summer.

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I was in college at Winston-Salem State University. It was rainy and windy there, but not serious. I had to come home the weekend after the storm hit to be in my cousin's wedding.

When I hit about Chapel Hill, it looked like a war zone hit.

I looked a mess at the wedding (along with a bunch of other people) because we couldn't get dresses from the cleaners, plug in curling irons, etc. And she got married by candlelight, because the power was out.

I remember the power being out for days, people cooking on grills, and going to Chapel Hill (where power was still on) to buy ice and food (I don't know how I got through; I hear they were checking IDs and only letting CH residents in).

My cousin's marriage didn't even last a year. She swears up and down Fran was a sign NOT to go through with the wedding!

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I lived on Daisy St off Hillsborough St and was 22 at the time. Daisy had only some leaves scattered so I ventured out of my dark duplex to get a bite to eat thinking nothing was too beat up. I had spent the previous night drinking at the Comet before the plywood they always had covering the windows blew off and they closed. I went gleefully walking down to the Subway beside Wolfmart only to find the line all the way to East Village...apparently they had power when nothing else on Hillsborough St did acording to some people in line. Ok...so I'd have to drive to get some food, well maybe I should check on Mom up in Wake Forest since teh phones were out too.....Up to Clark and over to Dixie Trail...blocked going towards Hillsborough St so I turn towards Wade..get to Wade only to find it washed out below Oberlin...so I head up Canterbury and turn right onto Lake Boone Trail....by now I have seen houses compeltely leveled to the ground by 100 year old Willow Oak trees. Some pine trees cut through two story houses all the way to the ground like a hot knife through butter....drove under several trees (I had a CRX) and through some yards to make it from Lake Boone and over to Oberlin near the Wade Bridge...left on Oberlin and right on Colonial....trees down so completely blocking roads at almost every turn...only option is to go north on St Marys....live wires everywhere...literally zig zagging trees to finally make it to Crabtree well...used to be a creek but the water is almost up to the White Oak light at Lassiter/St. Marys....crap...ahve to find another place to cross the creek...back up St Marys to Glenwood, Whitaker Mill, Wake Forest Rd....and holy sh@#.....Oak City Diner is up to its windows with several boats in Crabtree buzzing the half mile or so over to Six Forks....K-Mart (where the Borders is now) has water about neck deep....back up Wake Forest...make it to Capital via downtown and see Crabtree is splashing accross Capital but cars are being allowed to cross.....my understanding is that it was the only bridge not closed accross Crabtree in the city.....

Back then I worked at Burger King on Strickland Road. It had power within 24 hours....7 people made it to work out of a normal shift of fifteen for lunch......we had a drive thourgh only line from 10am until 8pm that was continuously over 20 cars with peaks over 50...all the way through the Hannaford (remember that grocery store ?) parking lot...people waited over an hour for food, some ordering over a hundred dollars, and they thanked us with tears in their eyes, so grateful just to eat....even after an hour wait. An attempt at perspective, our restaurant averaged about 3000 dollars a day in sales...ALL day dining room and drive through combined from 6 am to 11pm....we pushed around 6000 dollars through just a drive through in a partial day with half staff.......the whole experience was just mind boggling.....

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I don't know about clocked winds, but in our neighborhood, there apparently was what they call a "microburst"...a mini-tornado or something. You could see right where it hit, traveled and went back up. It cut a swath through the woods behind neighbors yards into our yard and disappeared, luckily, over our house (we were down a hill, sort of, from where it left the ground again) There was a huge tangle of trees and limbs where it went. I understand these happened all over, in addition to just trees falling from wet soil and wind gust, although we had them too.

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I don't know about clocked winds, but in our neighborhood, there apparently was what they call a "microburst"...a mini-tornado or something. You could see right where it hit, traveled and went back up. It cut a swath through the woods behind neighbors yards into our yard and disappeared, luckily, over our house (we were down a hill, sort of, from where it left the ground again) There was a huge tangle of trees and limbs where it went. I understand these happened all over, in addition to just trees falling from wet soil and wind gust, although we had them too.

Yeah my mom's place up in Wake Forest had a microburst in the back yard...it blew out an area about 50 feet in diameter with all the trees (three over 18 inches in diameter) blown outward in a teardrop fashion...two other trees caught the tops of those before they landed on her bedroom :cry: whew, that was too close but everything turned out ok :thumbsup:

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I had just started a job and had been there for 3 months and I had a presentation with a very high level executive the next day. So I went to bed early and remember the wind was howling but went to sleep. I jump out of bed, took a shower and jump in the car and left my house in 5-points and started down I-40. I was hell-bent and nervous on this meeting with this Executive

I remember thinking, man, there is no traffic and alot of limbs and leaves around but kept on driving. Got to work early and then realized as no one came in that this was bigger than I thought. I talked to my parents and they had numerous trees down.

About 11:30, the Executive came to work and I had to let him in because the electric doors were not working. Around the time for the meeting, I went to his office and asked him if we were going to meet and he gave me that "you dumbarse" look.

So much for impressions. I am still here and he got fired several years later but his parachute is much bigger than mine. (Mine is the back pocket on my jeans)

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I know the author of that chart, and I can assure you that it is pretty accurate.

JB

Hahaha... I bet you do! :)

I was 19 when Hurricane Fran came rolling through. I slept through Hurricane Fran in my 3rd floor bedroom. Later I found out a compact tornado or something blasted through some trees approximately 300 feet from me. Yikes.

My place (in Cary) was without power for 15 days. My friend's grandmother lived in a house on Glenwood just north of Five Points, and an old Oak tree tore off the exterior kitchen wall.

I remember that The Brewery had power pretty quickly, so I hung out there a couple nights. Needless to say, the crowd was smaller than usual. Anything was better than staying at home. It was humid and generally unpleasant.

I don't remember much else from 1996 though I do remember enough to be thankful it is no longer 1996. :D

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