OAK ISLAND, N.C. — When Hurricane Isaias tore through Oak Island, the damage done on land was in your face. Nearly a month later, crews have shifted their focus to what could be hidden in the water.
“We saw firsthand that cars were all over the place on this island and upside down. So yeah, cars were floating all around during that big storm surge we had,” Oak Island Water Rescue Chief Tony Young said.
It started with a rumor. There are several vehicles that were on the island when the storm came through, which are now missing. It’s being presumed they were taken out to sea.
“It’s not just plausible,” Young details. “We had three cars in front of our station that started the night up on the beach.”
With 75 percent of the beach closed, Oak Island Water Rescue’s call volume is dramatically down. With that extra time, the team is taking preventative measures to keep people safe while the waters are void of people. That consists of seeing what may be beneath the surface.
“What we did know is there was a lot of debris in the water,” Young says. “A lot of people along the beach lost steps, and decks and all kinds of stuff.”
Earlier this week, they started by taking their drone to the sky to survey the shoreline. It didn’t take long for them to spot something.
“Right away we found this big blob in the water and it looks like a plume of something’s coming off of it,” Young adds.
The problem is, they couldn’t locate the object again.
“If there is a car out there it’s got oil, and gas and transmission fluid,” Young says. “All that stuff we don’t want in our waters anyway.”
Young says the area has experienced some strong longshore currents in the last few days, which could have covered or moved the object.
“We’ll continue to go back. We’ve got a real good idea of where it was anyway,” Young said. “It’s a good place to start from.”
Their objective is less about looking for cars, and more about finding any type of debris that could pose a risk to swimmers.
“We’re afraid that some of it’s gonna be just below the surface or right off the beach so it’ll be a danger,” Young says.
The team plans to head back to the beach Thursday morning around 9, when it will be low tide. They’ll begin their search near the area where the object was spotted, before moving down the beach.