Despite rough seas from Hurricane Florence, people flock to the coastal edge Friday

VIRGINIA BEACH — After Hurricane Florence tested the resolve of Hampton Roads this week, scores of people visited the shores of the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Friday; some out of curiosity, others out of a sense of duty.

But they shared one similarity — they were mesmerized by the churn of the choppy Atlantic Ocean, which was mixed up by the tail-end of Florence’s whiplash.

“I came out here just to watch the waves crash,” said Derek Spencer, a 45-year-old Virginia Beach resident who took off work Wednesday through Friday because of the threat of Florence.

What appears to be fog in this image is actually "sea spray," which is created when rough seas eject sand foam particles and salty mist into the air (Joshua Weinstein/ Southside Daily)
What appears to be fog in this image is actually “sea spray,” which is created when rough seas eject sand foam particles and salty mist into the air (Southside Daily)

“It’s just hard to look away, ya know? I think it’s because the ocean incubates so much life, and yet it can be so deadly to us humans — supposedly the smartest things on the planet,” Spencer said.

Not everyone had an existential reason for visiting the Oceanfront on Friday.

Janet and David Erwin also took off work the last two days because of Florence. Their two children, Ronny and Jake, have been out of school during that time, too.

Related story: Have no pier: proposal withdrawn as city leaders meet on major Oceanfront projects

Janet described the reasons for bringing the family out to the beach Friday as “a result of stir-craziness and an attempt at some family fun.”

The Erwins stood and watched while their sons Ronny and Jake stood in ankle deep water, giggling every time a wave crashed near them.

“The kids also love seeing the ocean when it’s all angry,” David said.

A surfer catches a wave near the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier at the Oceanfront (Joshua Weinstein/Southside Daily)
A surfer catches a wave near the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier at the Oceanfront (Southside Daily)

Just down the beach from the Erwins was a crowd of people near the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier. A man had just walked into the waves with his surfboard, and people stood with camera phones in hand bracing for a wipe out.

“I was hoping I’d see a surfer down here,” said Andrew Klingingsmith, who also lives in Virginia Beach. “People like that are nuts, but I love to see them do their thing. Plus I love watching the waves and hearing them crash. It’s soothing.”

As Klingingsmith walked back to his friends, another friend arrived on the beach — sunshine.

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