By Lane Holt
Sixty years ago today Hazel destroyed everything our family owned-our home and our business on Carolina Beach. I still have vivid memories of the destruction. We rode out the hurricane in the Wilmington Hotel. I watched the glass window fronts in downtown burst and shatter from the pressure.
My parents and I were some of the first to be allowed back on the island.
My Dad operated the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier and Restaurant. It was the first 1000 foot pier on the east coast, we were told. This brick building that housed the tackle shop and restaurant was constructed so as to survive storms. In fact, many locals wanted to spend the night in this building thinking it would certainly survive any storm. Fortunately, local law enforcement insisted we leave the island.
The road up the northern strip to our home and pier was closed so I started running up the beach. I could immediately see that very little of our pier was left, maybe 150 ft. at most. Some of the things I will never forget as I ran up the beach— the ocean was as calm as a lake. Only a slight ripple where the water met the sand. I will never forget the smell of propane gas from tanks ripped from houses that were now rubble. A couple homes next to our pier were actually now in the ocean.
I met a couple of elderly locals, the Griffins, walking toward me. They had chosen to stay in their home on the north end and you could see they made a mistake. They were in terrible shape. Soon I could see that our tackle shop and restaurant was no more. It was flattened. No one would have survived in that building. The roof was almost one-half mile back toward the intracoastal waterway. It was an eerie sight.
Three feet of water in our home ruined everything in it. We spent many weeks with wonderful friends and neighbors until we were able to rebuild. Our meals came from the Salvation Army truck that came by twice everyday while we were cleaning up. I have not and will not ever pass a Salvation Army fundraiser without giving. I am sure I have paid them back many times over.
In loving memory of my parents, Dan and Margaret Holt.