From the Western to Eastern Shores of the Chesapeake Bay, People Ready for Florence

Sep 12, 2018

All this week people who live along the Chesapeake Bay have been preparing for whatever Hurricane Florence may bring.

Marinas dot the creeks and inlets of the historic town of Reedville, which sits on Virginia's western shore of the Chesapeake Bay.  The week has been a busy one at Buzzard's Point Marina. In one day, Manager Edward Bowis has already stowed 30 power boats whose owners hail mostly from Richmond. "The tide is what really gets us around here you know," Bowis says. "We're pretty protected by wind but the tide is the main thing. Got to be ready either way.

Linwood Bowis braids a new line that will keep the Chesapeake Breeze in place during the storm.
Credit Pamela D'Angelo

Edward's father, Captain Linwood Bowis, runs the Chesapeake Breeze ferry to Tangier Island. He's been through four or so hurricanes with her. When news of Florence's track included Virginia, customers canceled before he had a chance to.  "I don't cancel anymore. Everybody just cancels out on their own. Everything is so well forecast and crazy."

The elder Bowis sits in an air-conditioned cottage, escaping the pre-storm humidity, while he braids a long, thick line that will keep the ferry in place. Outside holes dot the yard from where he and his sons were digging to locate two huge steel eye bolts cemented into the ground after Hurricane Ernesto moved the ferry into the pier. They tie the lines to it.

Out on Tangier, islanders are still making a plan. Claudine Eskridge has seen plenty of storms come and go. "Right now it doesn't look too bad for us. We know we're gonna get a lot of rain. We know we're going to get a lot of flooding. And I'm quite sure it's going to be blowing. We just stay in, we just hanker down. Make sure we got plenty of food in the house," Eskridge explains. "I was born and raised here so I'm used to it."

Some on Tangier will evacuate to Maryland and Virginia's Eastern Shore to stay with relatives.

On the edge of the Atlantic at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science Eastern Shore lab in Wachapreague they already flooded from the nor'easter over last weekend. Director Richard Snyder said cleanup and preparations for the hurricane began Monday.  "We're expecting significant flooding from high tides. We are growing clams and bay scallops and oysters. But if the power goes down we'll lose the pumps and there won't be any life support for them. Our most precious ones we've put overboard in a cages in our boat harbor and we hope they survive."

The latest storm track shows coastal flooding is still an issue for Virginia.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.