The beautiful picture above which was taken by Apollo 9, if looked at closely and with an open eye, tells us what would and did happen. When the counter-clockwise spinning storm crosses the shore and those underneath pass into the eye, the winds eerily stop, but as the spinning storm spins onward, when the eyewall on the other side of the storm arrives, the winds start anew from the opposite direction and usually with more force than the initial assault. This change of wind direction reverses the flow of the water. The huge volume of water pushed into the sounds and rivers suddenly receives those brutal outward bound winds and builds into wave after wave headed for the pristine barrier islands with high energy. In a matter of an hour or so, a sand flat that was created on the eastern shore of the sound quickly fills with water again and the volume is so great and moving so fast that it finds its course back toward the sea by the shortest route possible, over what was previously dry ground. The heavy rain even adds to the volume as homes, businesses and even schools are soon flooded. It has happened in times of bad storms for many centuries and it isn't about to change, for the problem was created not by the storm but by the actions of man in not paying attention.
Think about it a little more deeply. The water previously entered into the sound, driven by winds from the sea, that took place over the last few days that the storm was moving toward that fragile shore. When it tried to send some of the volume where man-made barriers successfully contained it, many of those barriers were heavily damaged by the wrath of the tide as well and in some cases overrun, but one way or the other, the massive amounts of water that made it into the sound moved westward, there to wait for the chance to return from whence it came. When that wind suddenly changed direction, it returned with a vengeance for all of the residents to see and they paid the price. The sea is like that. It will do what it is going to do and until we understand that simple message it will ultimately only get worse as we continue to overbuild on fragile sand bars. Perhaps the force of nature is the only thing that will change that.
Maybe it's as simple as man just understanding what the nature of a barrier island is all about. A barrier island is a fragile isle designed to give some protection to the mainland behind it. If it ultimately disappears, small places like Stumpy Point, Manns Harbor and even greater sized towns will find themselves at the mercy of the open ocean. Roanoke Island, also considered part of the Outer Banks, will also assume a much more direct threat and the beaches will be gone forever. Barrier islands have their purpose and we need to understand them, for when a much greater storm than Dorian hits and it someday will, the coast will be changed forever.
The old days of common sense are now over, replaced by a human arrogance that thinks it can conquer and while both Hatteras Island and Ocracoke will become even more impacted by the continued growth. Even the northern Banks of Bodie Island won't escape the problems and in many ways they will be even more severe, particularly as a public health issue. The modern beach dunes created by the Corps of Engineers have sealed the interior off. What was a natural brush covered sandy area for absorbing and percolating the water that couldn't escape back to the sea on its own is now fully built up. The result becomes a heavy rain and storm event becomes a toxic stew that must be pumped back into the ocean on the very beach where visitors want to frolic and play. There is no other means of removing it since infrastructure is woefully inadequate for the population now served. Meanwhile, Even there the soundside will continue to suffer from flooding since the water once again takes its most direct course seeking out the sea. Building there continues on steroids and ultimately, the entirety of the Outer Banks will suffer one of two fates. Which one happens first will likely bring the area's major demise as a desirable place to be. It will either become so overcrowded that it will lose all semblance to being a paradise on the sea or the "Big One" will solve the problem with the power of Mother Nature.
A lady who is older like me and is a Facebook friend with much life experience in earlier times like me on the Outer Banks said it best and I will quote her. although the words might not be exact but the meaning remains the same:
"In earlier times on the Outer Banks, coastal residents built summer homes on huge pilings, not stilts, and they were spaced far apart to allow the ebb and flow of the sea and the blowing winds to rebuild the natural dunes with the sand they return to the beach."
Will mankind learn and change the way things are done? If we use past experience, no they won't and the land of much history will gasp her final breath as they waves finally send her to rest right back where she started thousands of years ago in the sea.