October 28, 2012

Flooded village streets keep Ocracoke
quiet and most folks inside

By CONNIE LEINBACH


Ocracoke was flooded by soundside storm surge from Hurricane Sandy by Sunday morning.

“I don’t think anyone was expecting this much water so soon,” said Sgt. Jason Daniels of the Hyde County Sheriff’s Department from his home along Old Beach Road.   Daniels is on duty but not driving around in the flooded streets, although expects to do so sometime today.

At 10 this morning, Daniels said he and another deputy might take a tour around the island around noon in their military truck, but he was concerned that the truck will push a large wake sending more water onto properties already flooded.

With a state of emergency declared for Hyde County, officials do not have to respond to emergency calls to 911, although he noted that there have been no emergency calls yet.

“High tide this afternoon is worrying me,” he said.

“There’s six inches on the road already,” said Chip Stevens from his home on Irvin Garrish Highway in the village.  He said he walked around and noticed water on all the roads. Some of the docks on Silver Lake were under water. 

“When the wind switches around to the northwest, and we get the soundside water (later today) we’ll really see some water,” he said.

Stevens’ front yard is where the First Annual Blackbeard’s Pirate Fest encampment by Blackbeard’s Pirate Crew was supposed to be held. He and organizers will announce a new date for the festival after the storm passes, damage is assessed, and pirate schedules are coordinated.
Stevens, his wife, and their two children, are keeping busy with school projects while the storm keeps everyone inside.

Amy Howard, the new executive director of the Ocracoke Preservation Society, and who lives at Lawton Lane and Howard Street, was busy updating her father, Philip Howard’s, island blog.

“We’re dry,” she said, although she noted that water was just starting to show on historic Howard Street.

“I’ve renamed School Road, ‘School River,’” she said about photos she took up the street. Her photos, as well as those by other islanders, can be seen on the blog site at www.villagecraftsment.com.  Click on “daily journal.”

Rita Thiel, along Middle Road, experienced a 90-minute power outage early this morning.

Her entire yard is flooded and she was concerned about the safety of the more than a dozen feral cats that she feeds.

Hyde County Manager Mazie Smith is on the island, along with Justin Gibbs, Hyde County EMS director. They have set up their Emergency Operations Center at the Ocracoke Community Center instead of Swan Quarter, the county seat.

“The mainlaind is OK, but with the roads and the ferries, this is where I need to be to fight for the citizens and the county,” she said.

By evening, Ocracoke Island businesses were all closed.

The Ocracoke gas station at the Beachcomber Campground closed at 2 p.m. when water got up to the door, said Sgt. Jason Daniels of the Hyde County Sheriff’s Department. 

He drove around the island around 4 p.m. and reported that all was quiet. Earlier in the day, while Highway 12 was flooded from the Creekside Cafe all the way out the village northward, he stopped a few cars to tell them to slow down so as to not make a wake causing flood waters to further harm property.

He noticed a half dozen people walking around the village.

He said he would not drive the island tonight night while the tide is rising.

“I’ll go out in the morning,” he said.

That’s when the water is supposed to rise again.

County manager Mazie Smith was back in her motel room by 7:30 p.m. after a day in the Community Center.

“Everyone has been great,” she said, noting that all (but the wind and rain) was quiet. “They heeded the warnings and stayed in.”

Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department’s chief reported in the afternoon that one of his volunteers, Van O’Neal, was driving his two-and-a-half ton military truck (dubbed “the Double Deuce”) around to pick up ferry workers and take them to the ferries.

Albert O’Neal is the ferry master, and said crews have been stationed at the ferry docks and have to make sure that the ferries are secure, although they currently are not running.

Jennifer Rich, who lives along Silver Lake, took a few photos of the flooding.  After that, she and her husband Bill were spending the day “chilling.”

“Watching TV. Doing nothing,” she said. “All the things I never get to do.  I never get to do just
Nothing.”

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