Brad Doerr knows it could have been a lot worse, even with one window lost and water up to the door of the Dairy Queen restaurant in Avon that he runs.

"Emily blew a lot harder than this one," Doerr told CNN affiliate WAVY, referring to 1993's far more powerful Hurricane Emily. "This one we were really fortunate."

Concerns about rip currents

Though it has moved on, the hurricane leaves deadly danger lurking under its coattails: possible rip currents. The weather service calls the spurts of back-flowing water, which can drag a swimmer from the shore and out to sea, the worst danger at the beach.

In 2009, tropical storms killed six people. All of them drowned in high waves or rip currents, the National Weather Service said. And it doesn't matter if the storm has already passed, it can sprout them from long distances.

They're hard to see and snatch bathers without warning.

Sherman Lee Criner is an iron man triathlete and confident he could swim out of a rip current if he had to.

"Even so, I'm not going to get out in the water," he said. It would be a dumb thing to do, especially in front of the children traveling with him. "Of course, I'm not going to let the kids out there," he said.

Criner was vacationing in Arthur's bull's eye on Emerald Isle with his son, daughter and niece.

He didn't plan for the group to be in the storm's path. He asked his two children and niece where they wanted to spend the holidays; they voted for the beach, and he granted the wish.

He thought of canceling the trip as the storm brewed but decided against it. "It's a doable storm," Criner said.