Burrell grads set to ride out Hurricane Dorian in N.C. | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Burrell grads set to ride out Hurricane Dorian in N.C.

Brian C. Rittmeyer
Patrick Duffey and Erika Fitch
Patrick Duffey and Erika Fitch
Photo courtesy of Erika Fitch
The front of the Fitch home in Topsail, N.C. boarded up in preparation for Hurrican Dorian.
Photo courtesy of Erika Fitch
While preparing for Hurricane Dorian, Erika Fitch’s fiancee’ and father attach the final board to the rear of their home in Topsail, N.C.

Erika Fitch and Patrick Duffey wanted to try something new, so the 2012 graduates of Burrell High School packed up their apartment in Robinson and moved to North Carolina three months ago.

Preparing for a hurricane wasn’t the new experience they were looking for, but that’s what they’ve found themselves doing this week as Hurricane Dorian churned toward the Atlantic coast.

“The grocery stores are pretty much out of everything at this point,” Fitch, 25, said Wednesday by phone. “We’ve got the house completely boarded up. We’ll be moving our cars today.”

Fitch and her fiance Duffey, also 25, are living with Fitch’s parents in Topsail, about 30 miles north of Wilmington, N.C. The elder Fitches moved to Topsail from Upper Burrell in 2013, and Erika Fitch’s brother Josh, 28, also lives there. Duffey grew up in Lower Burrell.

The Fitches’ home is on the mainland, just across the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway from the barrier islands.

As of about noon Wednesday, Dorian was a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph, according to the National Weather Service. It was about 205 miles south of Charleston, S.C., and moving north-northwest.

Erika Fitch said her parents moved to Topsail to escape Western Pennsylvania’s wintry conditions.

“They just wanted to get out of the snow. My mom wanted to leave the blizzards. She hates the snow,” Fitch said.

Fitch said her parents went through Hurricane Florence last year and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. She said they had water damage from Florence, but nothing serious.

As of Wednesday morning, Fitch said, the family was tentatively planning to stay at the house and ride out the storm. They expected the worst of the weather to come Thursday night, but it was still unclear which way the storm was going to go.

Neighbors were helping each other get their homes and properties ready, Fitch said.

She described conditions Wednesday as gloomy.

“The sound is super calm,” she said. “It’s like an eerie feeling.”

Fitch, who works as an accountant, said she and Duffey, a machine operator, are planning to buy a home in Wilmington, where they both work.

Despite the approaching hurricane, Fitch said she has no regrets about moving there.

“It’s the price you pay for living on the ocean,” she said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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