Hurricane Irene Aftermath
September 21, 2011 Facebook TwitterMore...

FERRY UPDATE:  Ocracoke residents and vendors to have priority


Dare County’s decision to allow visitors on southern Hatteras Island through Ocracoke via the ferries from Cedar Island and Swan Quarter has created an enormous demand for ferry reservations, especially on the weekends.

And the demand for reservation has created issues with vital services and vendors having access to Ocracoke and for residents needing to leave the island for medical appointments, according to a media release issued today by Hyde County.

The release says that residents and vendors providing essential services will get priority on the ferries.

“The NC Ferry Division recognizes the priority of Ocracoke residents with appointments and will make them a priority on the daily sound class ferry runs,” the statement said.

Residents who need to leave the island for a medical appointment are instructed to call the ferry operations office in Ocracoke at 252-928-5311 and ask for Ray Waller or Albert O’Neal. For return trips, they should call the operations office in Swan Quarter at 252-926-6021.

“Mail and other essential services are a priority for the NC Ferry Division for the residents of those affected by the storm,” Harold Thomas, assistant director of operations for the Ferry Division, said in the release. “They will have top priority on the Swan Quarter route and they will also have priority on the Stumpy Point ferry. The N.C. DOT Ferry Division is committed to the residents of Dare and Hyde counties.”

The Stumpy Point-Rodanthe route is an emergency ferry that is available only to residents of Hatteras and Ocracoke, non-resident property owners, critical personnel, supply trucks, and insurance adjusters. Visitors are not allowed on the emergency ferries.

“People who live on Ocracoke will get on the ferry,” Lucy Wallace, spokeswoman for the Ferry Division, said today about the newly issued information for Ocracoke residents. .

“We have added as many runs as we can and are moving as much as possible.”
She said the ferry division has not added personnel during the post-Irene situation.

“We can’t just add people because our workers have to be trained and qualified by the Coast Guard,” Wallace said. “We have to adhere to the Coast Guard regulations and crew members cannot work longer than 12-hour shifts.”

There are only four sound-class ferries that traverse the Pamlico Sound, she said. But a new one, the Swan Quarter, is due to be delivered to the Ferry Division around Nov. 1.

An 11 p.m. ferry from Cedar Island was added, along with its return from Ocracoke at 1:30 a.m.  These late runs will be in effect on Friday and Saturday nights only until Highway 12 on Hatteras Island re-opens, she said.

Wallace said that the Swan Quarter and Cedar Island ferries are fairly well booked on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, through October 29, but she said there are still some spaces available on the weekends, and there are spots available on both ferries during the week.

She urged folks wanting to get to Ocracoke and to Hatteras to keeping checking with the ferry reservations center.  She said the division is seeing reservations cancelled on a regular basis.

Hyde County says the Ferry Division advises grocery vendors and Ocracoke residents to use the Stumpy Point ferry when possible.

See http://www.ncdot.org/ferry/ for the latest information and to make reservations.

For reservations, please call the Reservation Call Center at 800-293-3779, and press 2.

The latest ferry schedule can be found on the Hurricane Irene Aftermath Page.  Click on the button on the right at the top of the page.

(Information for this article was also provided by Connie Leinbach.)

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