July 5, 2014

Ocracoke visitors leave as the island
copes with intermittent power


Ocracoke was quieter Saturday, two days after Hurricane Arthur blew through.

Many visitors who did not leave in the voluntary evacuation departed, and businesses are closed because of the sporadic power.   Ferries to Cedar Island and Swan Quarter were taking visitors and others off the island, but visitors are not allowed on the island until power is restored and Hyde County approves.

Tideland EMC crews were busy today replacing 45 power poles that went down in the early Friday morning maelstrom. Tideland was able on Friday to start the Ocracoke generator and rolling power to a third of the village at a time -- three hours on, six hours off.  The company also stressed that those residents and visitors on the island should not overload the generators ---run only refrigerators and fans while the power is on.

Officials expect electric power to be fully restored sometime on Sunday.

In the meantime, the only businesses open normal hours are the Variety Store, Howard’s Pub, the Pony Island Restaurant, and the Back Porch Restaurant since these businesses have generators. Ride the Wind and Ocracoke Trading Company were also open when they had power.

Ann Warner, owner of Howard’s Pub, was busy Saturday greeting customers. The restaurant opened for lunch on July 4, she said.

“Visitors and residents are pleased to have respite from their living quarters,” she said about the steady business.
The Pub is also a place where folks can charge their cell phones.

“Every outlet—even in the kitchen--had something in it yesterday,” she said, pointing out several in use. 

Many folks have had several meals at the Pub.

“This family is having their fifth meal here,” Warner said, indicating David Riley and his wife Sarah and daughters Sophie and Eloise.

“It’s our first time on Ocracoke,” David said, adding that the group hunkered down in one room Thursday night.

Ice cream vendor B.J. Oelschlegel, who manages the Slushy Stand, was hoping her ice cream would survive after a few days without power.

“I packed it in down sleeping bags and comforters and covered it all with cardboard,” she said.

Mark Justice, owner of the Fudge and Ice Cream Shop in Community Square, had also packed his ice cream in Styrofoam and other insulation and was confident it would be okay. The rolling power to his store was on late yesterday afternoon, which helped, but not at Oelschlegel’s since a downed electric pole had not been replaced until today.

Elizabeth Hanrahan, the island wildlife rehabilitation specialist who lives in Jackson Circle, was busy tending stranded birds islanders had found -- seven baby pelicans, five older pelicans, a cardinal, a blue jay, and two ducks.

“We brought nine baby pelicans that had washed over from Beacon Island,” said Ruth Fordon, an islander who helped ferry them to Hanrahan’s after Serena Barry, co-owner of Lightkeeper’s Guest House, found the babies.  “Serena’s the hero.”

Hanrahan said she will care for them for about six weeks. Then she will teach them how to fish and dive before they are released.

“They have to get their flight feathers in before they can be released,” she said as she cradled a juvenile and clamped her hand over its beak.

Elsewhere on the island, the sound of generators is punctuated by the sounds of chain saws cutting up the many downed trees.

“There are lots of fallen trees all over the island,” said Mia Huff, co-owner with her husband Tim of Island Property Care, as they cut up a tree along First Avenue.  Evidence of all the damaged trees can be seen along village roads where people are piling limbs and logs in anticipation of the chipper starting on Monday.

Highway 12 north of the Pony Pens was still closed this morning because of overwash.


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