Hurricane Florence Extraction Operation

Well, what seems to be the norm in my build —and anyone else’s build admittedly— I had to engage in the proverbial “two steps forward, one step back” as Hurricane Florence loomed towards the coast of North Carolina.

Since I had already turned off my cable service to my house in Northern Virginia in prep for the upcoming move (and to save money) I was blissfully ignorant of Florence’s maniacal intentions until my buddy Greg texted me and asked me what I thought about “Florence.” I thought I must have forgotten some discussion we had on his vacationing in Florence (Italy?).  Upon Googling it I then became one of the watchers-n-waiters to see what would happen.

And it just so happened that on Monday evening I had plans to head up to Old Town Alexandria for happy hour and dinner with some real estate agent friends of mine.  I got a text about an hour before heading out that we couldn’t go to our usual haunt since it was under siege by a couple feet of flood water, along with the rest of the Old Town waterfront a couple blocks in from the Potomac River.  (“Uh-oh” I thought, “if this thing is already impacting us this far north, I need to take heed!”)

I immediately called Sunbelt Rentals to see if they had my trailer available for rent, which they did. [BTW, this location happens to be one of the very few out of all their locations that has a trailer wide enough to accommodate the width of the main landing gear].  Since it was right before their closing time, and I still didn’t have an exact update on what Florence was doing, I decided to hold on off on reserving the trailer.  In addition, they open at 6 AM so I could grab it right at opening time if need be.

After dinner I got a Florence update and heard of the non-mandatory evacuation by noon Tuesday, I decided my mission was most likely a go.  I set my alarm for 5:30 AM (Tuesday) and headed off to bed.

By the next morning it looked very likely that Hurricane Florence was going to hit the North Carolina coast very near my storage unit.  Thus, my fuselage rescue and evac mission was a go.  I got to the rental location just after 6 AM and rented the trailer, did the paperwork, and got it hooked up.  I was then on the road just a bit after 6:30 AM, and arrived my storage unit just before 1 pm.  It took me about 5 hours to load up my motorcycle, fuselage, wing, and miscellaneous expensive stuff (including the baggage pods, wheel pants and my main avionics box!) before heading out of there about 6 pm.

As you can see a bit in the pic below, the weather was beautiful on Tuesday and hard to believe that a hurricane was bearing down on that location.

I then scooted over towards the west side of NC and went to Greensboro for a couple of days, offloading a few things at Stacey’s house before taking off at 3:30 AM Friday (14 Sep) to head north towards home.  For the most part, I had been able to keep the unpainted airplane components out of direct sunlight, so wanting to drive while dark and avoid traffic was my main reasons for leaving so early.  As it turned out, it was a perfect time to depart Greensboro.  I hit 10-15 min of heavy rain just west of Raleigh and maybe a half hour on each end of very light rain, but for the most part it was a dry trip and the fuselage was fairly water free upon my arrival home around 8:30 am.

My friends from the Cherry Point, NC area had also traveled over towards Greensboro and stayed in a hotel, and then followed behind me a couple of hours heading up to my place in Northern Virginia.  It was great having them for the week and a half that we waited out Florence’s shenanigans and ascertained what damage she had wrought.  They then departed on Saturday, 22 Sep.  Needless to say, their visit slowed me down considerably on my house updating efforts in order to prep it to sell.  Moreover, Marco was in town the following Monday (24 Sep) for training and stopped by for quite a few hours to talk shop and have dinner at a Peruvian chicken place that I turned him on to.

During Marco’s visit we discussed Rough River with the underlying assumption that I wasn’t going.  Marco’s Long-EZ is down for engine repairs and he was making plans to fly over to RR with an EAA chapter buddy in his Velocity.  However, after a few “check” flights it turned out that the Velocity was having some avionics issues and needed some tweaking before flying any instrument approaches.  Thus, I got the call just a couple of days later (Wednesday) that Marco was driving to Rough River and really wanted a wing man to come with during the 12+ hour drive there . . . so, not wanting to leave a buddy high and dry, I decided it was acceptable to take a few days off for RR.  Details of the RR trip are covered in the next blog post . . .

[BTW, I learned from both my friends returning back to NC and the owner of the storage unit that miraculously there was no flooding at the storage unit and all my other stuff made it through the hurricane unscathed!]

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