October 3, 2013

Residents and visitors hang in
there for third day of shutdown


By all accounts, the third day of the federal government shutdown that has closed the beaches and other facilities at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore was uneventful again.

Although all beaches and parking areas are technically closed to the public, folks continued to park at many and walk over to the beach.  Again, they were apparently not hassled by the small crew of law enforcement rangers who have not been furloughed.

Anglers who want to drive their vehicles to the beach remain the most disappointed, although one motel owner reported that today he had a cancellation from a woman who came to the seashore only to visit the lighthouses and hike the natural trails.

Business owners report slower sales to varying degrees, but so far they are getting by and hoping the impasse in Washington will end sooner rather than later.

Visitors who have rented cottages for next week have few choices about coming or not coming.  They have contracts that they are locked into and are paid up.

Dave Dawson, whose family owns two motels, a restaurant, and a shopping area in Buxton, said he has not had many cancellations at the Cape Hatteras Motel, which is located on the oceanfront.  He said there have been more at the Falcon Motel, which is not on the ocean, even though guests have been assured that they can park at the Cape Hatteras Motel and use that beach.

This year, he said, he has a core group of repeat guests – mostly anglers who don’t mind fishing from in front of the motel, even though they have to carry their gear out to the beach.

He said sales were down some at the Shipwreck Grill.  A service station owner reported slower sales at the gas pump, and a gallery operated said business had been very slow all week.

“However, it’s early in the game,” Dawson noted – a sentiment shared by other business owners.

Dawson, who is also president of the Hatteras Island Business Association, is concerned that he has taken calls from people who believe that the entire island is shut down or that the ferries aren’t running.

Hatteras and Ocracoke islands are not shut down.  The beaches are technically closed, though people who want to find a place by the water have managed to do so. Also closed are lighthouses, visitor centers, campgrounds, and some concessions.

Shops, restaurants, and other attractions on both islands remain open.

In addition, the state-operated ferries are running on a regular schedule.

Paul Stevens, the Park Service’s chief law enforcement official who is serving as incident commander during the shutdown, said no citations were issued at the seashore yesterday and only one was issued Tuesday on Ocracoke.

There were only minor incidents of vandalism, he said.

There is no sign from Congress that the shutdown will end anytime soon and little progress has apparently been made in negotiations.

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