From his water-front porch, long-time resident Bill Creasy watches what has become of Wrightsville Beach. “There were only about 4 families who lived here in the winter in 1934,” Creasy said.
Today, Wrightsville Beach has nearly 3000 permanent residents. According to the Department of Transportation, about a million people cross the drawbridge every month. Creasy said, “The beach has lost the character that it used to have, everybody knew everybody.”
Creasy can’t imagine living anywhere else. He has been in Wrightsville Beach through the good times, and the bad. “You’ve seen the pictures of the fires out in California, well that’s what it looked like on the beach,” he recalls.
The beach fire of 1934, Creasy remembers it well. The fire destroyed 100 cottages, a huge number considering there were only about 100 permanent residents living on the island. The famous Oceanic Hotel burned to the ground. “We walked across the beach, and it was nothing but chimneys, and bed frames and ashes. The beach was just totally destroyed,” described Creasy.
More recently, in 1996, Hurricane Fran wreaked havoc on the beach. The storm leveled sand dunes up and down the beach, and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses. “When we came back, my little apartment downstairs had 48 inches of water. The water was up to the windowsills.” An image creasy remembers like it happened yesterday.
Now, as he sits perched on his favorite porch seat, he watches Wrightsville Beach change around him, while still hanging on to those memories of growing up on the “beach.”
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