FRYING PAN SHOALS, N.C. — The American flag flying on a former Coast Guard light station off the coast of North Carolina has made it through Hurricane Dorian.
Live video from the Frying Pan Tower shows that the flag is torn but is still fluttering proudly.
The tower is 34 miles off the coast of North Carolina and Hurricane Dorian passed over the area before making landfall on Friday at Cape Hatteras.
It was built in 1964 to warn sailors to avoid the Frying Pan Shoals, a shallow area that was infamous for shipwrecks. At one point, about 20 Coast Guard cadets lived on the tower, but it was automated in 1979 and GPS navigation has since made it obsolete.
Richard Neal bought the abandoned tower in 2010 and is renovating the structure.
He’s set up a camera that livestreams the flag on the tower’s helipad, 85 feet above the ocean.
This is the second year that the flag has taken a beating.
Hurricane Florence shredded its flag last year and Neal retired it and auctioned it off on eBay to raise money for charity.
The livestream has attracted a large audience, but some people have complained that it was disrespectful to allow the flag to be destroyed.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Neal explained that the flag is attached to the top of the flagpole, so they can’t just lower via a rope like a normal flagpole. Clear conditions are needed to take the flag down, and by the time he realized Dorian was heading toward the tower, it would not have been safe.
“To change the flag we must have low winds, multiple hands to help and it has to be either when it has worn or would be known to be an upcoming dangerous condition,” Neal wrote.
He said the station technically is not in US waters, but he flies the flag to show respect for the country and the men and women who have served.