Ocracoke Update:  Life without a highway
January 17, 2008

An update on the detour from Hyde County Emergency Management

Hyde County Emergency Manager

I often receive a lot of inquiries from part-time islanders about what is going on back in Ocracoke, and I certainly have received a lot of media inquiries recently.  Therefore, I thought some might enjoy a sort of situational report, something I have to complete often for the state during tropical storms and other crucial events.

The 3.3 mile Highway 12 detour on the Ocracoke beach started early on Jan. 2 as planned.  Certainly, there is a uniqueness and novelty to the concept, much like many Ocracoke events.  As of yet, there have been no major complications and the weather has been cooperative.  One of the most critical aspects of planning was for medical evacuation, and this has paid off.  Three patients have been taken to the Outer Banks Hospital by Hyde County- Ocracoke Emergency Medical Services without incident, utilizing the beach detour in vehicles under loan from North Carolina Emergency Management.  In addition, there was one car fire on the beach detour, and its origin was unrelated to use of the beach.  There was also a report of a person down in the water in this stretch, which ended up being a nature lover trying to assist an injured bird. 

The detour is receiving extensive use, and Ocracoke is still receiving consistent out-of-town traffic.  The beach has been rutted up quite a bit, and the occasional rains and wind help smooth it out.  Those of us who are on it often have learned where to drive and where not to.  Cape Point Exxon, under contract with DOT, has un-stuck 44 vehicles (as of Jan. 12), and hauled about 15 more across the beach on a trailer for a small fee.  DOT has started consistently grading the ramp accesses being used.  The NC Ferry Division has also been a great partner in the effort, rearranging its schedule and boats to accommodate the commercial traffic coming through Swan Quarter. 

Meeting an unloading Hatteras Ferry yesterday afternoon, I met 15 vehicles (one of which was a local).  I am currently on the Cedar Island ferry with 10 vehicles, none local.  Some businesses that are open are reporting they are surprised by the traffic and certainly Jason’s (the only restaurant open) is often packed.

Carolina Bridge and the NC DOT are reporting the first bridge near the Pony Pen is nearing completion and they have moved on to substantial work at the second and third bridges.  Project updates and other information is available at www.ocracokebridges.com

Hyde County Emergency Management continues to maintain a constant presence on the island for coordination of all three levels of government.  In addition to other assignments, EM is providing the beach escorts for EMS, as determined appropriate by the Ocracoke Control Group and the state office of EMS.  This is for safety -- someone to immediately assist should an ambulance gets stuck and for constant radio communications.   David Warren, Hyde County EMS Director is also on the island extensively during the project.
Please contact me at with any questions or concerns that Hyde County may assist you with. E-mail address is [email protected].

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