Chamber of Commerce joined the Dare County Tourism Board in passing a
resolution urging Dare County to revisit its decision to allow visitors
into the southern Hatteras Island villages, beginning yesterday.
The Tourism Board passed its resolution Thursday morning, and,
according to the chamber, its board also passed the resolution
After more than a week of publicly saying that there would be no
visitor re-entry to Hatteras until at least after Sept. 17, Dare County
announced late Monday that visitors would be allowed back to Avon,
Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras villages, beginning Thursday, Sept. 15.
The northern villages of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo – heavily damaged
by Hurricane Irene on Aug. 27 – remained closed to visitors.
law enforcement road block at Ramp 23, just south of the villages, is
stopping visitors from traveling there.
Highway 12 remains closed during temporary repairs to the road, which
was cut by inlets and breaches in Pea Island. It is expected to re-open
sometime in early October.
The visitor re-entry is allowed only via ferries from Swan Quarter and
Cedar Island through Ocracoke.
Those ferries require reservations, and they were immediately snapped
up by visitors with reservations on Hatteras next week. In
those ferries are booked solid for at least the next couple weekends.
The visitor re-entry has been accompanied by a great deal of
controversy on Hatteras.
It was strongly opposed by rental management companies, who are being
besieged by unhappy guests who are caught in no-win situation.
The ferries are limited in how many vehicles they can move, so not all
of those with reservations for next week, and some weeks after that,
can get to Hatteras. And, since the state of emergency has
rescinded and visitors are now allowed, some visitors with trip
insurance are being told they won’t be compensated if they can’t get
In fact, some had already booked other reservations north of Oregon
Inlet, so now are left with two rentals for next week.
On the other hand, the visitor re-entry has been favored by many small
businesses on southern Hatteras, where there was little damage. Yet the
business owners and workers are taking a huge financial hit because
they have been closed for three weeks.
And county officials have said that the main reason they allowed
visitor re-entry was to get Hatteras islanders back to work.
Some small businesses have re-opened or will this weekend, even though
they will get only a small percentage of the visitors who had planned
In its resolution, the chamber said is opposed reopening to visitors
because of the “humanitarian crisis due to the tragedy left by the
hurricane being faced by the labor force.”
Also, the chamber cited that allowing visitors in now undermined the
“integrity of the business community,” strained limited infrastructure
and resources, and overwhelmed the carry capacity of the ferry system.
The resolution recommends that “the powers, bodies or persons that
control decisions regarding re-entry to Hatteras Island immediately
revisit the decision to authorize visitor re-entry.’
The board says that the decision should be “rescinded effective
immediately with the caveat that visitors who have existing ferry
reservations in place as of today for the next full booking week may
In response, Dare County manager Bobby Outten said, that while he could
not speak for the commissioners, he thinks that reversing the decision
now would not be practical.
He said it would require going back and issuing another state of
emergency, which involves too many details.
“I’m the one that pushed,” added Allen Burrus of Hatteras,
vice-chairman of the commissioners. “And if they have a problem, it’s
“Who do I represent in this process” Burrus asked. “I chose
represent the people I think need the most help, the workers.”
“It’s been gut-wrenching,” he said, but added “I am sleeping well at
The Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit business membership
organization representing 1,000 business members on North Carolina’s