TOPSAIL ISLAND, NORTH CAROLINA

Hurricane Floyd - The Rest of the Story

Heather and Shelby Chadwick

Our story began with the evacuation of the sea turtles for hurricane floyd, 9/14/99.
Great big thanks to Nancy and David Fahey, of  D&N  Wrecker Service.
Nancy is a volunteer with the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project and
 generously volunteered their  time and
A FLAT BED TRUCK.

They were able to transport six turtles, in their tanks, to a site several miles inland.

Many  thanks as well  to Sea Turtle Hospital volunteer Beth Howard
for extending her garage to us as the Sea Turtle Hospital Annex.
She watched over Windy, Charlie, Ocean, Piver, Smyrna and Pepper.
That's over 750 pounds of sea turtles and she was a great care-taker.
These six returned to the hospital Tuesday, Sept 21, 1999.


The last three were loaded into a U-Haul and driven many miles inland to the home of
the Chadwick Family.
Many miles inland, into the worst flooding in the area.

The Chadwicks were forced to evacuate from their home on Sunday, Sept 19,
as the flood waters poured through the first floor windows.
Heather Chadwick, a sea turtle hospital volunteer, UNCW graduate and future veterinarian,
waded out to the turtles, emptied their tanks, and lashed the tanks to rafters.
She had to give them every last chance as
they were forced to leave the sea turtles behind.

In the vision of  rising flood waters our collective hearts sank...
for the Chadwicks yes, and for the turtles.
How could they survive?

Heather & Eugene tell it like it was

Then came stories of dramatic animal rescues.
Horses and dogs and pigs.
What had happened to the Turtles?
It had been four days and we feared the worst.  Heather had to have an answer.
Heather, Shelby and Eugene Chadwick enlisted the aid of a neighbor and his boat.
The neighbor motored them to the area of their  property.
Somehow they were able to look past their own submerged home and out buildings.
Jammed into the woods they could see the tanks.
Inside those tanks were two very alive, tired and dirty sea turtles,
Bettie and Dare.

Dare, muddy and tired

Thanks to very skillful boat maneuvering, the crew was able to float the tanks
over to a nearby house and pull up to the porch.
Mr. Chadwick was able to stand on the porch and lift the turtles out of their tanks and
hand them into the boat.
Dare, being a little guy, fit into the fish compartment of the boat.
Bettie has some size.  She fit into a large container/box along for that purpose.


Bettie in carrier

Back in the boat Eugene, one more to find.

Now to the barn for  JR.
The boat stopped at the barn door.
Into the water jumps our hero and wades through water chest high.
Water that doesn't belong there, terribly polluted, filled with a variety creatures looking for high ground.
In the dark barn there it is, JR's tank with JR looking good inside.
Eugene was able to float the tank to the door and then somehow lift this turtle
out of the tank and pass it, above his head, to the boat .
This was done very carefully as JR thinks anything moving is worth trying to eat.


Bettie gets a lift from her rescuer, Eugene Chadwick

Then the six of them, Heather, Eugene, the boat man and Dare, Bettie and JR,
were off to the boat landing,
into a pick up truck
and back to Topsail Island.

Everyone was cheered  and greeted.

The turtles were cleaned and placed into waiting tanks.
Thank you Chadwicks, above and beyond.