10 a.m. Near Benson, N.C. - Hanna is welcoming us to Eastern North Carolina.
Right now we are near Benson and Hanna is dumping some serious rain in this area. The windshield wipers are going full speed and we have slowed down for safety reasons.
It is my understanding that Hanna has been dumping rain on Eastern North Carolina for awhile now. News reports here say areas east of me are seeing the most rain.
Eastern North Carolina has a history of bad flooding. Back when Floyd hit this state it flooded hog farms so bad that the hogs were able to climb on the roof of their pens. Hopefully we will not see that type of flooding this time around.
9:48 a.m. Johnston County, N.C. - You may remember my post yesterday about our broken windshield wiper. I fixed it with duct tape last night and it is still holding the wiper to the arm.
I must say it is impressive that a piece of tape can hold something together while driving 50 mph down the road in a tropical storm.
9:20 a.m. Sampson County - I have left Wilmington and am now heading down Interstate 40 toward Raleigh.
I can tell that I am driving into the storm. It started raining about 20 minutes ago and the wind is very strong. Each wind gust shakes the car from side to side.
I hear power outages are a serious problem on the coast. We just passed about 15 utility trucks heading toward Wilmington.
8 a.m. Wilmington, N.C. – I am now down at the River Walk along the Cape Fear River in Wilmington. It is actually a pretty beautiful morning here. The water is rough but the wind is starting to die down.
Looking at the sky, the clouds are a bit gray but they seem to be moving very quickly.
I have spotted a few people out here in downtown. One man I spoke with was walking his dog and checking out the damage. He lived near that downed tree I mentioned earlier. He seemed very glad that his home and cars were not damaged.
Since the weather is starting to clear up here I am going to head north.
7:50 a.m. Wilmington, NC - It was a wild night in Wilmington, N.C. I arrived at my brother’s house around 1 a.m. At that point most of the rain from Hanna was to our north but the wind was very strong.
As I was going to sleep I could hear the wind slamming against the house. Right before 2 a.m. the power went out. It came back on pretty quickly but also went out several other times during the night.
I got up around daybreak and headed out looking for damage. About two blocks from where I spent the night I found a giant tree in the middle of the road. It had landed on a car parked on the street causing serious damage.
As I made my way through downtown Wilmington it was easy to tell Hanna had paid a visit. A lighthouse in front of a store was blown over and several trash can lids had also been blown onto the ground.
I am going to check out the water before heading north to where Hanna is now.
12:03 a.m. Brunswick County, N.C. - This little adventure ran into its first problem. We were driving along I-40 and all of a sudden the passenger-side windshield wiper broke loose. It was flapping across the windshield, so we pulled over on the side of the road. I jumped out and found that the clasp holding the wiper to the arm that moves back and forth was busted. I removed the wiper, brought it into the car with me and we headed to the nearest gas station.
Having only one wiper hampered our vision but that was not the worst part. The medal arm scrapping against the glass made one of the most terrible noises in the world.
We found a gas station and then I turned into MacGyver. I bought some duct tape in the gas station and taped that wiper right back onto the arm. Sure enough it worked. We got back on the road and the wiper is moving rain off the windshield like it’s nobody’s business.
The rain has actually been letting up now. Hopefully we can get to Wilmington without any more problems.
11:47 p.m. Rosehill, N.C. - The wind and rain is really starting to pick up. I am now about 50 miles out of Wilmington. We have slowed down to about 50 miles per hour on I-40. There are some puddles on the road, but the driving conditions are still manageable.
We pretty much have the road to ourselves. There is certainly no one else heading toward Wilmington.
10:45 p.m. Clinton, N.C. - First let me set the stage for you. Months ago I planned a trip to my hometown, Raleigh. Little did I know at the time that a tropical storm would pass through North Carolina the same weekend as my visit. Instead of bagging the trip, I flew in early and am now going to meet Hanna.
Right now I am riding in a car down I-40 heading to Wilmington. The center of the storm is expected to hit land sometime overnight, but the area I am in is already seeing the effects of Hanna.
There is a steady rain right now, but the wind is not too strong. As expected there are not many cars on the road. The goal is to get to my brother’s house in Wilmington before conditions get much worse.