The Town of Edenton has announced the public screening of a 20th anniversary documentary film marking Hurricane Isabel’s 2003 rampage through eastern North Carolina and Virginia: “Isabel 20.”
The film, totaling 71 minutes, will feature predominantly Edenton and Chowan County stories, but will showcase the storm’s wide-ranging impacts across North Carolina. The screening will take place at 5:15 p.m. on December 14 at the Taylor Theater in downtown Edenton. The event is free and open to the public, with concessions being offered by the theater as normal.
Hurricane Isabel was the most intense and deadliest hurricane of the 2003 season, and the strongest in the Atlantic Ocean since Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Isabel carved a path of destruction from Hatteras and Ocracoke islands through the Inner Banks of North Carolina and up through the Tidewater of Virginia and Maryland.
Notably, Edenton was dealt some of the worst of Isabel’s inland damage, with storm surge from the hurricane’s eyewall topping seven feet — flooding homes and businesses in the historic downtown core. Winds roared up to 100 miles per hour, downing nearly 60 percent of Chowan County’s tree cover and costing the community $200 million in property damage. Hurricane Isabel remains Edenton’s costliest recorded natural disaster.
The film will cover the lead-up to the storm, the impacts during the storm itself, and the aftermath and recovery. Interviews with over 20 residents and local leaders at the time are featured, along with a multitude of photos and an hour of accumulated footage of the storm’s landfall.
Assembling the film took an estimated six months of sifting through over 10 hours of footage, 300 photographs and months of newspaper clippings, with an additional eight months of prior logistics and planning.
“This is a groundbreaking event for Edenton as we debut our first ever ‘community film’ — one that reflects upon such a game-changing disaster for our area,” said Tyler Newman, Public Information Officer. “Everyone has an Isabel story — so we encourage the public, particularly Chowan County and northeast North Carolina residents to make an effort to come out and watch the film, which has become a wonderful oral history project.”
Seating is limited, so those planning to attend are encouraged to show early as these seats will be first come, first serve.