By Jim Turner
It is hard to believe 2018 is-finally nearing its end and taking with it one of the worst
storm seasons to affect our island in many years. As I am -writing this, the evidence
of personal tragedy still huddles in heaps of debris along our coastal highway. For
weeks, the endless piles of vegetation on the north side and the home furnishings
and construction rubbish on the south side created an almost unbroken chain. Most
of it has been removed by now, but the memories of Florence and her devastation
will remain with us for years to come. For some of us those memories will come with
Sur-vivor s guilt is a very real psychological condition and is not to be taken lightly
or scoffed at. This beast most commonly occurs after a large-scale tragedy such as
battlefield deaths, airplane crashes or natural disasters. It is a post-traumatic reaction
to the violence and to feelings of helplessness the tragedy brings. I will not begin a
discussion of survivors guilt here because I believe we will benefit from a serious, in-
depth examination and, hopefully, it is a topic another contributor will investigate fully
at another time. It certainly will require more attention than my space and talent can
offer. I refer to it now only because recent events have jarred some confused memories
for me, and I delve a bit into why.
For example, I have never understood why so many friends and acquaintances
selected to serve in Southeast Asia returned home with devastating injuries, both
physical ones and psychological ones. I served in the Army from 1968 to 1970, yet I
was not among those victims. Why not? Why them and not me? More recently is my
confusion about the storms. Why did Florence create havoc to so much property all
around me and only created a great nuisance and spoiled food at our house? Why is
This “Why me?” question has bothered me for a large portion of my life. As I
remember some of the more interesting adventures I explored as a kid, it still surprises
me that I even survived childhood and adolescence. When I was in elementary school
I was a bit adventuresome. That is a profound understatement. 1 was not a bad kid—I
was just curious in a risky sort of way.
I vividly recall now that small outbuilding that stood very close to our house and
was about the same height as the back porch roof. It was special to me because it was
a perfect place to learn how to fly if somebody had an interest in learning to do that.
Everybody knew back then that wings were not required for flying. Birds needed
wings because they couldn’t tie on the magic capes worn by Superman and other super
heroes. You needed fingers, an old towel or big colored rag and some place to get off to
an elevated running start. Once you ran forward with a head of steam, all you needed to
do was to leap with hands outstretched and off you would soar into the sky. Everybody
knew that, right?
Behind that small outbuilding was a collection of assorted boxes and other stuff
that, when shuffled and piled just so, could create a pretty good makeshift ladder. Brave
soul that I was, the shaky ladder substitute didn’t present a problem at all. So I tossed
the magic cape onto the tin roof and scrambled up behind it. I collected the flying aid,
fitted it securely to my skinny neck and stepped over onto the long porch roof where I
could get a good running start.
I think my mother must have had a direct line to the Henderson Cab Company, and
the drivers all knew the quickest route from our house to the hospital. It was her 1952
version of 91 l.They had made the trip a few times before. The doctor’s examination
revealed no broken bones, just some bruises to my body and to my ego. I believed my
flight would have succeeded except, for my execution. I failed to keep my head up and
didn’t get the correct amount of lift. At least that was what I was going to tell my dad
when he got home. Tpromised to not jump off the roof again, and he promised to let
me continue to live as long as I kept my end of the bargain.
The little outbuilding was a veritable treasure trove of fun stuff that just begged to
be investigated. Since flying was off the table for a while, I decided to spend more time
inside the building .instead of on it. My father had more tools and other fun things than
Carter had liver pills, and most of the things in his collection would be considered safe
for a 10-year-old to touch. Everything, that is, except the bullets. He didn't own a gun
that I was aware of, but for some reason he had collected several bullets. I discovered
The Shoreline I December 2018
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these bad boys one day, and the light bulb in my head flickered ever so slightly. I stuffed
the bullets in my pocket and continued to explore.
Many of you will remember the days before electric drills and have Iflcely actually put
your hands on the predecessor to the drill, the venerable brace and bit. When I found
that tool, theiight began to burn a little brighter, and an adventure morphed for real.
What if, I asked myself, I took this brace and bit and drilled a small hole in the side of
one of those big trees in our front yard? And what if I were to fit one of these bullets
into the hole? I’m imagining a hole the size of the really big bullet. Then, what if I
actually shot the bullet inside the hole in the tree? What would happen?
Planning and preparing something is okay, but the real fun is in the execution of
the plan. I had the bullet, the big one. I had the brace and bit for the hole in the tree
so all I needed now was a firing pin. What are hammers for? And screwdrivers are
multipurpose tools. Forgive me, Lord, for I knew not what I was doing. Once again, I
flirted with death or mutilation. But, man, I was excited. So I drilled a hole in the tree
about the diameter and depth of the bullet. I took the handy screwdriver and rested its
business end on the firing cap, drew back the hammer and let her fly. The tree did not
die. Nor did I, but I screamed like bloody *@%a, qiie shrapnel from the casing and the
burns from the gun powder were somewhat less enjoyable than all the preparation. Our
cab soon arrived and deposited me and my mother at the hospital emergency room.
Once again, I suffered only minor injuries. My mother and father, though, were nearly
called to glory when they fully realized what I had done.
So why was I spared, in my youth, my young adulthood and even now? Over the
years my daughter, and now her children, have asked me why about a million times
and answers are not always easy to find. Except once a few years ago when one of my
grandchildren asked me why God made possums so danged uglyJ!That’s an easy one,” I
replied. “That’s so we won’t be upset when we see them smashed on the highway.”
PKS Watershed Restoration Plan
By Sarah Williams
Homeowners can be part of the solution to storm water runoff
Pine Knoll Shores is partnering with the North Carolina Coastal Federation. Eastern
Carolina Council and UNC-Wilmingtons Environmental Science Department to
prepare a watershed restoration plan to deal with polluted storm water runoff. The
plan proposes strategies to reduce the volume of storm water runoff and improve water
quality. Reducing runoff will also help address minor flooding issues.
The key goals of the plan are to:
i. Turn back the clock on water pollution
. Reduce instances of flooding
. Align future capital improvements with storm water retrofits
• Increase community awareness and participation in projects.
The draft plan includes strategies to reduce polluted runoff. These include cost-
effective retrofits that direct storm water to infiltrate into the ground or collect it for
Having a plan will better position the town to receive grant funding for storm water
reduction projects. The town plans to pursue projects to reduce runoff at public sites.
Homeowners can be a part of the solution by trying these easy DIY projects to
reduce storm water coming from their property:
. Attach a plastic tube to your gutter downspout and direct roof runoff into the
yard rather than the driveway to reduce runoff by about 50%
• Capture rain in a rain barrel and save money by using it to water gardens and
. Build a rain garden to collect rain and let it slowly soak into the ground
• Install native plants that take less effort to grow and less money to maintain
• Install permeable pavers or pavement on sections of the driveway to allow storm
water to soak through to the ground.
For more tips and resources for reducing storm water pollution, pick up a free copy
of “Smart Yards” at town hall or visit nccoast.org/stormwater.