We live just one block off the Neuse River, and Hurricane Irene was amazingly destructive, not because of the wind velocity but because of the duration. The winds began to pick up a bit on a Friday afternoon and we moved our cars to higher ground. We also joined a rowdy group at The Chelsea Restaurant Friday evening for a hurricane party--the restaurant's windows were completely boarded up, but, once inside, we noted that many of our neighbors were perched on stools at the bar. Irene hit full force Saturday and lingered over this area for hours and hours and hours. We watched the water rise up and fill the street and, fearing it may well come into the house, we were just beginning to move furniture up to the second floor when the winds shifted and the water blew back into the river. It was thrilling and appalling. After the winds shifted, we managed to make our way down the street to our neighbors' home for an intimate candlelight dinner Saturday night--certainly fearful that a heavy branch might fall on us as we made our way down the street with flashlights....Our street was buried under limbs and several large trees blew over and, miraculously, only one unoccupied home was hit by a tree. The City of New Bern crews were immediately out in full force early Sunday morning once the storm had passed through the area. I spent 9 hours clearing my tiny little yard of debris, and the city crews spent even longer clearing my street. My historic home survived, but then, it was built in 1860 and has seen its share of bad weather. Just as I finished clearing my yard, drenched in sweat and filth, and yearning for the coolness of air-conditioning, the electricity came back on. Wonderful timing! The best part?----the New York Times delivery man, now a good friend, made sure my Sunday Times was in my hand, no matter the effort involved. He made his way through mountains of debris and walked up my driveway at 5 PM....now THAT is small town living at its best. So, yes, there can be terribly destructive storms in this area. They are very infrequent, though, and this one reminded me of the importance of good friends, good neighbors, and excellent public service employees.