ugly realities of Hurricane Irene become more evident everyday as
Hatteras Island works towards recovering from this huge
All of the once green vegetation is now dead and falling to the ground,
beaten to death by winds that gusted to 88 mph on Saturday morning at
8:51 at Billy Mitchell Airfield . The ground is covered in a
smelly muck brought in by the immense soundside flooding.
Piles of debris, ruined furniture, and appliances accumulate along
Highway 12, ready for the day when Dare County will collect them
all. Considering the crumpled condition of the only highway
and off the island, that day could be a long way off.
At this point, locals look for and need signs of normalcy in their
day-to-day existence. In Buxton, spirits were encouraged
yesterday when Angelo’s Pizza opened for dinner, and the road signs in
front Diamond Shoals and Captain's Table restaurants announced they
would be opening the following day.
The lines of cars waiting for gasoline were gone. A lonely
UPS truck was making some deliveries, mostly medical supplies to the
pharmacy and medical center.
Islanders are acting like their grandparents used to. Cars
in the middle of the road so the drivers can talk to each through
rolled-down windows. The people behind them are not really
bothered or inconvenienced by this small-town behavior.
Every passerby gets a wave. The women hug, and the men shake
hands. Tears flow freely. After all, we have
be grateful for – we survived the storm and some of us even had
Driving a little north to Avon, it was harder to find that normal
feeling. The Food Lion parking lot was completely closed
off by yellow tape draped across all the entrances. There
cars in the parking lot and not a single business was open in the
middle of a Tuesday afternoon.
The traffic lights were dead, and the road still underwater in
places. Vehicles manned with the National Guard in uniform
up and down the highway, driving faster than residents.
A caravan of vehicles with red letters that said “the Salvation Army”
turned down the road into old Avon village to set up free food for
anyone at the Avon Volunteer Fire Department. They arrived by
ferry that came from Stumpy Point to Hatteras because that’s how
emergency supplies and personal get to the island these days.
The Salvation Army brought enough food to provide three meals a day for
three days. Breakfast biscuits would be made in the morning
hot dogs or burgers served for lunch. A local restaurant
a significant amount of fish that would be served for dinner.
Across the street from the fire station, crews from the Cape Hatteras
Electric Cooperative worked with colleagues from the statewide
association of electric cooperatives who came to help install the newly
delivered megawatt diesel generator that arrived earlier by ferry
boat. It’s the size of a trailer and will bring power to the
village of Avon. As hard as the crew worked, the small
spent another night in the dark.
Continuing north to the tri-villages, it was obvious that it would be
years before many of its inhabitants would fully recover. The
area’s residents are struggling to regroup because so many are without
their homes anymore. Some were left with only a vehicle or
the clothes on their back.
Decades worth of family memories were scattered across the landscape
when the rushing waters from the Pamlico Sound took them so violently.
The Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Center was already the town’s
gathering place. Word was just getting out that help was
available. There was a team of Salvation Army personnel here,
too, ready to serve up three meals a day. Spaghetti was
Dare County Social Services was on hand to help with special needs
cases. The Red Cross would be arriving in a day or
won’t be long before FEMA will be around to start the application
process for people needing emergency disaster food stamps.
The Parks and Recreation team was here setting up a free transportation
system, using their vans to help move people around the villages since
so many people in this area lost their vehicles. This storm
16 inches above the high water mark left by the March super storm of
1993. Apparently, there weren’t many safe spots for cars on
Temporary ferry service has been running between Stumpy Point and
Rodanthe, a two-hour ride, to bring in emergency supplies to the
area. However, the ferry channel is now shallow in spots
of the hurricane and on Tuesday, the ferries were running at high tide
The channel between Stumpy Point and Hatteras village has been more
reliable, but is a much longer voyage at three hours and 20
minutes. According to a spokeswoman for Dare County’s Control
Group, it’s up to the ferry boat captain to pick the route based on the
conditions when leaving Stumpy Point.
The services the local firefighters, police, and EMS personnel were
extolled by the locals for the services they provided to the public
without regard to their own personal loss.
At the north end of the villages, the skies were buzzing as multiple
helicopters and airplanes circled the Mirlo Beach area where the
highway ends so several state and federal officials could survey the
damaged road from the air.
Many dramatic changes had taken place in the 24 hours since
Monday. The electric poles were now standing
CHEC linemen were working quickly to repair the electric lines because
this area, too, had a megawatt generator being brought online just down
the road. By nightfall, some of the area would have power.
Century Link was stringing new fiber-optic lines, using a kayak and a
couple of Jet Skis to help carry the line across the stream of water
that flowed between the ocean and sound, which at low tide didn’t look
A few miles north, a growing inlet was the main attraction.
the highway is repaired, tourism is dead on the island.
12 is the economic lifeline to Hatteras Island, and without it, some
will not completely survive Hurricane Irene.
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