Beach Access and Park Issues
December 2, 2011

NPS employees finish hurricane debris clean-up on Ocracoke


National Park Service employees did the last of debris clean-up from Hurricane Irene on the north end of Ocracoke Island on Thursday, Dec. 1.

District ranger Kenny Ballance explained that ferry riders had alerted him to large pieces of debris littering the soundside beach near the north end ferry docks.

With the help of about eight NPS employees from the Hatteras and Bodie Island districts in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the group spent the morning gathering enough debris for three dump truck loads.

Among the flotsam were propane tanks, a refrigerator, wood from docks and walls, as well as other small trash items.

Adam Collins, district foreman at Ocracoke, noted that all of the debris on the oceanside of the island washed away weeks ago, but the stuff his co-workers collected on Thursday had just remained on the soundside beach since the Aug. 27 storm, from which Ocracoke was largely spared.

Collins said all the debris would be taken to the Park Service grounds and separated. Some of it would be recycled.

Ballance explained that Collins worked with his boss, John Kowlok, chief of maintenance for the seashore, who also participated on Thursday, to bring other NPS workers to Ocracoke in order to get the project done quickly.

“I appreciate their help,” Ballance said.  “This was a positive partnership among the districts.”

The Park Service still has more work to do post-Irene, particularly replacing signs.

About three-fourths of the mile markers along the beach were washed away, and the Park Service will work on reinstalling them in early 2012, Ballance noted.

 “Mile markers are a crucial in the beach areas outside the protected (swimming) area,” he said. “People use them to tell us where they are in emergencies.”

Reinstallation of mile markers should be done by April 1, he said. Deciding on that timing depends on the threat of northeasters, any one of which could wash the signs away again.

Washed-away signs at Ramp 59 also will be replaced, Ballance said.

He also noted that the post-Irene dune repair along Highway 12 on the island has been completed, although that is an North Carolina Department of Transportation project.

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