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Endurance Seafood Gutted By Florence
Bruno family takes stock after storm
September 24, 2018

eith Bruno and his family live and work on the shores of the Neuse River, across from Pecan Grove Marina. The Bruno family owns Endurance Seafood, operating their fishing business from the docks behind their home. High winds and waves from Hurricane Florence wiped out their land-based operations, a setup that included a refrigerated truck, pools housing fresh caught fish, and a deck to greet customers and prepare the catch.

Endurance Seafood
Keith Bruno, owner of Endurance Seafood stands beside a ruined electrical box.

TownDock talked with Keith Bruno. He related his experience before and after the storm. While his businesses was destroyed (for the moment)… you’ll hear man that retains his positive spirit. Take a listen:

Bruno and his family have been through hurricanes before. After Hurricane Irene struck in 2011, Bruno bought a refrigeration truck. The idea was to have a mobile storehouse, one he could drive away from the storm. Hitching two trucks to the stalled vehicle didn’t help; the brakes had locked up, possibly from having sat so long. It had to be left behind. Florence destroyed it.

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What is left of the refrigeration truck and docks of Endurance Seafood.

They focused on moving the more mobile aspects of the business. The small fishing boats went to a friend’s property further inland. Crab traps went to the land-locked property of another neighbor. They didn’t plan on leaving themselves, but moved heirloom items and their two parrots to the concrete home of a friend just in case. The Bruno home is on stilts and has survived other storms. But the news reports left them with doubt.

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The Endurance docks from Pecan Grove.

“I was getting very mixed signals, you know, they were saying it’s gonna be a 2 instead of a 4,” Bruno said. “And then it seemed like some of the reporters were saying, ‘it’s gonna be okay – 3 to 6 feet.’ And I’m thinking we can do 3 to 6 feet standing on my head.” Bruno, his wife Maryann and their two sons in their late teens, Zach and Ben, stayed at home.

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Keith Bruno discusses future plans for rebuilding his land-based operations.

By 3:30p on Thursday, the day Florence made landfall, inconsistent water surge reports created doubt in Bruno and his wife. Some reports said 3 to 6 feet, others 9 to 13. They decided to leave. They had parked their trucks on higher ground next door at Pecan Grove Marina but still had to evacuate three large dogs, two of whom did not want to enter water that was now waist-high.

Endurance Seafood
Hurricane Florence cleared out the pens and tore out the underside of the house.

Bruno’s sons went for the trucks down the road while he and his wife corralled their frightened dogs. The waves began rolling in as the elder Brunos, dogs in tow, half walked and half swam to the road. They made it out and spent the night inland at a friend’s home.

Though they didn’t travel far, returning the next day was a challenge. Trees blocked the roads. First responders attempted to reroute them. They made it back, but couldn’t drive to the property. Zach and Ben waded in to assess the damage. The house was a little wet. The docks and truck were a total loss.

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Pamlico Sound is home to two military bombing ranges. One of those signs appeared in Bruno’s yard, courtesy the winds of Florence.

Keith Bruno and his family left to gather their things and return again. He will rebuild his operation. “We have time. Not a lot of money, but we’re gonna have time.” He expects it to take three or four months.

For now, the family has been in the marinas and around the community, salvaging and picking up what Florence washed away. “We gotta get our stuff out of other people’s yards…it’s up to us to pick up our mess. And in the meantime we found what looks like pieces of our dock…every stick we get over there is one less I might have to buy.”

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The family left with few belongings including this glass etching that belonged to Bruno’s father.

He is making plans for the future, looking into a semi box truck, similar to a shipping container on wheels, that has no problem sitting for a long time and can be hauled out when needed. He’s relocating his electrical box inside the house – higher above flood waters.

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One of the members of the Bruno household that evacuated from Florence.

Bruno credits the people of Oriental and Pamlico county for making the aftermath easier to bear. Neighbors offered him places to shelter his business tools as well as his family. Others brought dinner and supplies after the storm. Though he may have to repair his home, he says he’s lucky to have that much; some no longer had a home to repair. “People come out to help in droves.”

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Keith Bruno with a military bombing range sign that washed in from the Pamlico Sound.

Posted Monday September 24, 2018 by Allison DeWeese

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