Hurricane Irene Aftermath
September 12, 2011 Facebook TwitterMore...

Visitors can return to southern Hatteras villages on Thursday, Sept. 15

By IRENE NOLAN


Visitor re-entry for Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras village will begin on Thursday, Sept. 15, at 7 a.m. via ferry service from Swan Quarter or Cedar Island. 

Visitors traveling to these villages will be allowed to enter the island only by ferry service originating in Swan Quarter or Cedar Island through Ocracoke to the ferry docks at Hatteras village. 

Visitors will not be permitted on the emergency ferry route from Stumpy Point to Rodanthe.

The decision to allow visitors back to the southern villages was made today by the county, and it was not without controversy.

“It was a situation of damned if you do, and damned if you don’t,” said county manager Bobby Outten about the deliberations.

Allen Burrus of Hatteras village, vice-chairman of the county’s Board of Commissioners, said he had been “chewed out” for days by folks on both sides of the visitor re-entry quandary.

On one hand, rental management companies were concerned that a negative “visitor experience” would hurt the island in the future – that visitors would have to wait in line for ferries or couldn’t get ferry reservations or wouldn’t find the needed support service, such as restaurants and supermarkets, when they arrived.

On the other hand, many small businesses had already laid off employees or were about to.  They think that even if just a small percentage of visitors arrive through Ocracoke, it will help them keep people employed.

And Outten said that’s what the decision boiled down to.

“We weren’t going to be throwing our working people under the bus,” Outten said.

He noted that employees that have already gone on unemployment or are about to would find their benefits running out in February, a good two months before the tourist season starts.

This way, he said, employees can go back to work and file for benefits, as they usually do at the end of the season.

Outten said that the county officials involved in making the decision understood that the amount of business that returns to the southern half of the island might be less than what it might have been.

“It may not help businesses, but it will help workers,” he said.

Reaction on the Island Free Press Facebook page was immediate and all over the board when we posted the initial news about visitor re-entry a few hours ago.

Here is a typical exchange.

Well, we only have a week down there and it looks like most of it will be spent waiting on/riding on ferries? That's no fun,” wrote one follower

“At least you get the opportunity to go. Our vacation was scheduled for 8/27 in Rodanthe. I would gladly take your vacation off your hands if the ferry is too much of an imposition for you,” replied another.

Visitors will not be allowed to travel north of Avon on Highway 12, since the villages of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo have had too much damage to deal with tourism now.

The ferry route to Ocracoke from Swan Quarter or Cedar Island requires a reservation and costs $15 for a vehicle and more for larger vehicles and trailers.

To make a mandatory reservation, call 1-800-293-3779 (press 2) or online at www.ncferry.org   Visitors are encouraged to make ferry reservations as soon as possible for both their departure trip AND return trip. 

A spokesperson for the Ferry Division said tonight that a ferry might be added at Cedar Island and that the Hatteras Inlet ferry schedule would be increased from its current scaled back crossings.

The Stumpy Point to Rodanthe ferry will continue to be reserved for residents who have to go off the island and return, non-resident property owners, such services as trash trucks, and vendors supplying businesses.

Between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 4:30 a.m., the Ferry Division will give boarding priority on the emergency ferries to vehicles carrying essential commodities.  Commercial vehicles are urged to use the overnight ferry trips in order to avoid congestion.

Visitors with upcoming travel plans for the villages of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo are advised by Dare County that visitor re-entry will not begin until a future date, sometime after Thursday, Sept. 29. 

Visitors with travel plans to Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo over the next couple of weeks should seek accommodations elsewhere in Dare County, north of Oregon Inlet. If you need help finding lodging, contact the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau at 1-877-629-4386 or visit www.outerbanks.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has said that the temporary repairs to Highway 12 at the S-curves and on Pea Island should be finished about the first of October.


FOR MORE INFORMATION

The latest ferry schedules follows. There could be updates in the next day or so. You can check for the latest on the “ferry schedule” button at the top of the IFP Hurricane Irene aftermath page.

Stumpy Point –Rodanthe

The NCDOT Ferry Division is offering 16 departures from each side to assist with the re-entry process for Hatteras Island, on the following schedule beginning 5 a.m., Friday, Sept. 9: 

Departing Stumpy Point at 12:30 a.m., 2 a.m., 3:30 a.m., 5 a.m., 6:30 a.m., 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m. 6:30 p.m.,  8 p.m.,  9:30 p.m., 11 p.m.

Departing Rodanthe at midnight, 1:30 a.m., 3 a.m., 4:30 a.m., 6 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 9 p.m., and 10:30 p.m.

Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4:30 a.m., the Ferry Division will give boarding priority to vehicles carrying essential commodities.  Commercial vehicles are urged to use the overnight ferry trips in order to avoid congestion with the re-entry of residents.

Cedar Island-Ocracoke

Departing Cedar Island at 7 a.m., 10, 1 p.m. and 3:30; and
• Departing Ocracoke at 7:30 a.m., 10, 1 p.m. and 3:30.

Swan Quarter-Ocracoke

Departing Swan Quarter at 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 4:30; and
• Departing Ocracoke at 6:30 a.m., 9:30, 12:45 p.m. and 4.

Hatteras-Ocracoke

The Hatteras Inlet ferry is running on a reduced schedule to accommodate Hatteras Island residents who choose to return through Ocracoke via the ferries from Swan Quarter or Cedar Island.

Ferries leave the Hatteras village docks on the even hour.  The first ferry is at 6 a.m. and the last at midnight.  Ferries leave Ocracoke on the odd hour, beginning at 7 a.m. and ending with the last trip at 11 p.m.

Ocracoke Island is open to all, and the Swan Quarter and Cedar Island ferries are by reservation.

Hatteras Island is open only to residents and non-resident property owners.

For ferry reservations and information, contact the NCDOT Ferry Division at 1-800-BY-FERRY.


 


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