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Residents of Chappaquiddick Island ready to ride it out

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Residents of Chappaquiddick Island ready to ride it out

Post  mermaid on Sun Aug 28, 2011 7:17 am

Residents of Chappaquiddick Island ready to ride it out
By Chris Cassidy
Sunday, August 28, 2011 -

While panicked mainlanders raided their supermarkets for water and bread, hearty souls on isolated Chappaquiddick Island refused to abandon their remote locale as ferry service stopped running last night, leaving them stranded and exposed to Hurricane Irene’s wrath.

“Good, fine, that doesn’t bother me,” said Nancy Pelhune, a 46-year islander. “The ferry could stop forever — I’d stay. Big deal. We’re fine. We have food. It’s not cold.”

Residents on this small island off Martha’s Vineyard — made infamous by U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s 1969 car crash that killed Mary Jo Kopechne — were stubbornly standing their ground yesterday, even planning Irene parties and insisting they have everything they need.

“People overreact,” Pelhune scoffed after hearing how Bostonians were scrambling to hunker down. “I’ve got cucumbers. My beans are here. I’ve got the tomatoes picked. We have lots.”

Laura Jemison and neighbors had a barbecue 20 years ago just hours before Hurricane Bob hit, which knocked out water for a week. She recalled leaving dirty dishes on the deck in hopes the rain would clean them.

This time, she was planning to bake a quiche and sit down for dinner with friends down her dirt road for Hurricane Irene.

“I don’t have a television. We didn’t have Internet until last year. You have to go on the roof for your cell phone,” Jemison said. “That’s the kind of people who live here.”

Residents even gathered at the Chappaquiddick Community Center on Friday night for a screening of a documentary on the Hurricane of 1938, which devastated the island.

Ruth Welch rode out that storm as a kid 73 years ago and, even though she lives by herself, showed no signs of trepidation yesterday.

“You just hole up and wait for it to finish,” she said.

Edgartown Harbormaster Charlie Blair has heard all kinds of stories from Chappy natives proud to have ridden out powerful storms through the decades, but he worries about response time if there’s a medical emergency mid-hurricane.

“The docks are all going to be underwater, so we’re going to have to launch from a trailer, a rescue boat, and try to get over there,” he said. “It could be bad.”

On Martha’s Vineyard, a mass exodus of fleeing tourists jammed traffic in downtown Vineyard Haven first thing yesterday morning. But by afternoon, islanders calmly shuffled in and out of supermarkets and hardware stores, cars coolly navigated four-way stop signs without honking or wild hand gestures.

“For a lot of the islanders, this is one of those things, it’s just normal,” said Stephen Dunham, a local carpenter boarding up a motel.
Calm is good. harp-100


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