Hurricane Irene: Duke prof says nasty storm will be good for Outer Banks

✔✔✔✔✔ A Duke professor welcomes the hurricane!

Who is this dude?

This following is not a misquote. Here are the words of Orrin Pilkey, James B. Duke Professor emeritus of geology in the Nicholas School of the Environment: "The storm that is coming up the coast here is just what the islands need."

Wait a second. The Outer Banks -- the thin, long line of barrier islands jutting into the sea -- will take the brunt on Saturday. Property will be destroyed. Wildlife will drown. Salt spray from the waves will kill vegetation that lives on fresh water.

The professor: "We are going to see an awful lot of buildings destroyed and an awful lot of buildings damaged... And because it's so slow-moving, there are not only going to be high winds and big waves, but they are going to last a long time."

So where's the flip side, the good? Pilkey -- author of "A Celebration of the World's Barrier Islands," told the Los Angeles Times -- of all papers, one that is clear cross country -- that storms of this magnitude are essential to the islands' survival. "Heavy storms bring new sand to the islands, helping them stay at sea level rather than eroding and disappearing into the sea."

"It's a strange thing to live in a place where a natural disaster is essential for the environment. Californians who live in fire-prone areas are familiar with this dilemma. For people, fires are catastrophes, but some of us live in environments that depend on fire for survival...... A naturalist living on a barrier island knows that protecting your house is not a good thing. Because protecting your house ends up destroying the beach."

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