This is what I found on USATODAY.COM:

Step into the phone booth-size Hurricane Simulator at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, and for $2 for a one-minute session you can feel what a 78 mph gale – the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane – is like.

A placard next to the simulator attests to the area being the “Hurricane Alley” of the Southeast: Hazel (1954), Diana (1984), Fran (1996), Floyd (1999) and – last September – Florence, a Category 1, all came ashore here.

Learning from experience is key. Wilmington and its string of beaches were evacuated and largely cut off Sept. 11-18 by slow-moving Florence’s tidal surges and heavy rains followed by flooding of the Cape Fear River, which Wilmington faces. But the eighth-largest metro in North Carolina recovered fast enough to stage its usual holiday events. Beaches show little sign of hurricane erosion or related damage. Cranes and scaffolding downtown are in place for new construction, not repairs.

Wilmington’s vibrant downtown includes a 194-block historic district less congested than those in Charleston or Savannah. Wilmington (founded in 1732) has more history than Myrtle Beach and the Outer Banks communities, and has less over-the-top commercialism than either. Unlike Savannah, Wilmington’s beach islands are just a bridge away.

A dynamic dining scene is fueled in part by the Cape Fear area’s allure as a low-cost alternative to Hollywood for movies and TV series: Both “Dawson’s Creek” and “One Tree Hill” shot frequently in 67-acre Arlie Gardens, the romantic landmark facing the waterway near Wrightsville Beach – where Florence landed. The garden was closed for 45 days and number of its famed azaleas were lost but the ancient live oaks, native to the region, came through fine. Shrubs have been replaced and Arlie’s 100,000 tulip bulbs, pulled last summer, have been replanted.

Read more at USATODAY.COM.

Leave your comments below.