December 13, 2013
Ocracoke organizes to fight stormwater – also
known as huge puddles in the road
BY CONNIE LEINBACH
time it rains on Ocracoke, islanders and visitors must run a gauntlet
of large puddles on the village streets that often last for days before
evaporating. This has been going on for many years and
Wednesday night, the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association agreed to
be the group to try to move forward to find a solution to this issue.
LeBlanc will be the OCBA representative to the committee of nine to 11
stakeholders with Erin Fleckenstein, a coastal scientist with the North
Carolina Coastal Federation, helping to steer the work.
Fleckenstein presided over a meeting Nov. 21 about standing stormwater
throughout the village. It was agreed at that meeting to form a
committee with several in attendance volunteering.
presented the situation to the Hyde County commissioners at their Dec. 2
meeting and asked them to form the committee, but Commissioner John
Fletcher of Ocracoke said that Ocracoke doesn’t need another
“I told her to go through the
Ocracoke Civic and Business Association, since we already have eight
committees that deal with government,” Fletcher said.
Nov. 21 meeting, attended by about 40 islanders, including the seventh-
and eighth-grade classes of Ocracoke School, covered a wide range of
Since Ocracoke is not an incorporated town but is governed by the county, the big question is whose responsibility is this?
“We all know where the problem areas are,” said LeBlanc, owner of Ocracoke Coffee. “We don’t know who’s responsible.”
Ocracoke needs a management structure to handle such a project, said
engineer Joe Anlauff of Anlauff Engineering, Nags Head.
plan would be for Ocracoke to form an authority—a drainage authority,
for example, or get an existing authority, such as the Mosquito Control
Board -- to expand its work to include stormwater, Anlauff said. Such
boards have the authority to levy taxes for these kinds of community
improvements, he said.
However, he added, there’s mixed
community support for having another entity to tax Ocracoke property
owners, and David Frum, who is on the Ocracoke Sanitary District board and
noted that the water board strictly deals with drinking water for the
Complicating the issue of stormwater drainage are the
inland and coastal marshlands, mosquito ditches, runoff into Silver
Lake, varying levels of the ground water table and the paved roads.
Ballance explained that the leveled areas on either side of Highway 12
just outside the village work well to drain water off the road.
Bryant, who is on the Ocracoke Planning Board, pointed out that years
ago as more houses were built they began to be placed on lots elevated
above the existing road. Runoff from driveways pools in the
streets at several well-known spots on the island. Prior to this
practice, homes were closer to the ground and the ground along the
roads was level or lower than the roads, allowing water to flow
naturally off of the roads, noted Rudy Austin.
Mac Gibbs, a
retired N.C. extension agent, noted that sand is the best filter of all
of this water. Moreover, he said, there is old concrete under the
macadam as well as the turf stone placed on some roads decades ago,
which could help solve the problems.
All agreed that stormwater on Ocracoke is a many-faceted situation that will take a lot of coordination over a few years.
Wednesday night, the OCBA agreed that the task force’s agenda would be
to collate the various problem areas and prioritize potential
solutions, both physical and managerial.
Hyde County manager Bill Rich had said at the commissioners’ meeting that the county has staff available to help.
asked the commissioners to look into the budget for possible matching
grant monies for whatever projects are decided. The Federation
will help guide the task force to possible grantors, as well as help
write grants, should those be sought, she said.