October 30, 2012

Storm tide has receded, but travel to and
from the islands is still a problem


It was a glorious day on Hatteras Island as cleanup from Hurricane Sandy’s brush by the Outer Banks began in earnest.

I was astounded when I woke up this morning to bright sunshine for the first time in four days and looked out my window.  Here in Brigands’ Bay in Frisco, the storm tide was all but gone.  Only a few puddles remained in the yards.

We hadn’t expected that to happen until much later today, but then Sandy has been a challenge to forecasters for a couple weeks now.

Travel continued to be a problem on Hatteras and Ocracoke as North Carolina Department of Transportation crews started clearing sand and water from the ocean storm surge on Highway 12 on both islands.

Here are some highlights from the day’s news, which you can read more about in more detailed on-the-scene stories filed by Connie Leinbach on Ocracoke and Anne Bowers on Hatteras.

  • NCDOT crews began clearing sand and water on northern Ocracoke Island and on Hatteras between Hatteras village and Frisco and in northern Buxton.  Highway 12 is now passable from Rodanthe to Hatteras village.  Ocracoke could have at least one lane open by tomorrow.
  • Highway 12 is still closed from Rodanthe to the Bonner Bridge.  The road is damaged at Mirlo Beach in northern Rodanthe, at the S-curves, and south of the new bridge at Pea Island Inlet.  DOT is continuing to clean the sand and water off the highway to assess the situation and estimate how long it will take to reopen the highway. A better idea of when the highway will be repaired could be available tomorrow.
  • DOT’s Ferry Division began running the emergency ferry from Stumpy Point on the mainland to Rodanthe today.  Click here for a schedule and more information.
  • Everyone, including visitors, can use the emergency ferries to leave Hatteras Island.  However, visitors cannot enter Hatteras on the ferries.  Only Hatteras residents, essential personnel, employees of island businesses, and non-resident property owners can enter the island.  Residents need a valid North Carolina driver’s license, essential personnel need a white disaster re-entry permit or critical personnel permit, and non-resident property owners and employees of Hatteras businesses need a burgundy re-entry permit.
  • Sound ferries will start running on the winter schedule tomorrow to Ocracoke from Cedar Island and Swan Quarter.  All people, including visitors, can use the ferries.  For more information and reservations, Ferry information is available by calling 800-293-3779 (BY-FERRY) and pressing 1, or via Twitter at www.twitter.com/ncdot_ferry.
  • The Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry is not running yet, but may be when Highway 12 on Ocracoke is cleared from the Pony Pens to the ferry dock. Check for updated information tomorrow.
  • DOT has also inspected the Bonner Bridge.  According to this afternoon’s media release, crews have completed an on-site inspection of the bridge. A scour inspection was completed this afternoon when crews were safely able to get into boats and examine the water depth around the bridge’s support columns. DOT will also examine how the sand has shifted.  So far, there is no reason to believe that the Bonner Bridge is not safe, but more information on the inspections should be available tomorrow.
  • Internet returned to Hatteras Island late this afternoon after Century Link crews were airlifted by Dare County Medflight to Rodanthe to repair a fiber-optic cable. From Sunday morning until today, Internet access was spotty and sporadic.
  • Many readers have e-mailed me or Island Free Press to ask if they can get to Hatteras this weekend or how long it might take DOT to repair the highway.  The answer right now is that nobody knows.  However, it seems very unlikely at this point that Highway 12 will be repaired by the weekend.  Don’t count on it.  You can monitor the latest on road conditions and Hurricane Sandy recovery on the Dare County website, www.darenc.com.
  • The National Park Service may reopen the seashore beaches to vehicles tomorrow.  The latest information on that will be available on the seashore website, www.nps.gov/caha or by calling park headquarters at 252-473-2011.
  • The Cape Hatteras Anglers Club will make a decision by Friday, Nov. 2, on whether its annual CHAC Invitation Surf Fishing Tournament will happen as planned next week.  The tournament is schedule to start Wednesday, with fishing days on Thursday and Friday.

Again, more information is available in the other stories we have posted and will post tonight. 

With this story is a slide show of aerial photos that Island Free Press photographer Don Bowers took early this afternoon of Hatteras and Ocracoke. And Island Free Press will continue to keep you up to date on the Bonner Bridge, Highway 12, and travel on the island.


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