During the month of September 2020, all donations will be matched, 100%, dollar-for-dollar, up to $25,000 by a local philanthropist!
Oak Island Water Rescue is a non-profit 20-member volunteer emergency response team that aids swimmers and boaters in distress. We also assist the Oak Island Police Department and Oak Island Fire Department with missing persons and beach transfers, as well as the United States Coast Guard with in-shore Search and Rescue operations. Oak Island is a barrier island in Brunswick County on the North Carolina coast.
Our station on SE 49th Street was badly damaged during and after Hurricane Isaias. As most Oak Islanders know, the storm hit as a Category 1 hurricane with 85 MPH winds. Because of it’s relative weakness, most of us were not very intimidated or alarmed by this storm. But it has often been said that the category of storm, which only measures wind speed, is a poor barometer of the impact and damage it can do. We saw this with Hurricanes Florence and Matthew as well, both Cat 1’s that did substantial damage. But Isaias was different, and far more destructive for Oak Island.
The storm put Oak Island in the Northeast quadrant, often the most violent part of a hurricane. The winds were coming out of the south, pushing all the water and surge onto land. We were hit with both eye walls, at high-tide, during a full moon, which would have already caused King tides without a hurricane. It literally was a perfect storm, and allowed a weak hurricane to inflict serious damage to our island.
As with all hurricanes, Oak Island Water Rescue moved all of our boats, trucks, and rescue gear to safer locations around the island before the storm hit. Our station is very close to the beach, which of course allows us to respond to calls quicker, but is located in an area subject to flooding, especially during strong storms. The station saw 3-4 feet of water, far more than ever in the past, throughout the building. It destroyed all of our furniture, tools, clothes, appliances, office, electrical system, walls, etc. In addition, large objects floated in the flood waters outside the building, repeatedly crashing into and destroying the garage doors.
We do have insurance and the claims adjuster has already been out to account for damages. To save money, our team members have been doing a great deal of the work themselves, something we take a lot of pride in. We always try to use your generous donations as carefully as possible, and have a team with very diverse skills that all manage to work great together. With few exceptions, we have the skills and talent required to tear down and rebuild the station. But we have a LOT of equipment to replace. Our goal is not just to rebuild the station the way it was before the storm, to make improvements, which will make us more resiliant to future storms. Your donations during this difficult time are especially appreciated!