July 3, 2014

UPDATE: Life after Arthur beginning to
return to normal


Hatteras Island re-opened today after a mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Arthur, which passed close to the Outer Banks early Friday morning with winds of 100 mph.

This morning, Dare County announced re-entry to Hatteras for residents and essential personnel.  At 4 pm, visitors were allowed to return to the island.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has opened the Bonner Bridge and Highway 12 for travel for those who are being allowed to return.

Access to Ocracoke Island is currently limited to emergency and infrastructure personnel, as well as residents and property owners only if they can produce any of the following documents:
  • Unexpired Ocracoke re-entry hangtag from Hyde County (any color)
  • Expired Ocracoke re-entry hangtag or sticker from Hyde County (any color)
  • North Carolina drivers license with Ocracoke address
  • Documentation with proof of owning property on Ocracoke, such as a tax receipt.
  • No visitors are being allowed on Ocracoke at the present time, and Hyde County officials are encouraging any visitors who are still on the island -- the evacuation there was voluntary -- to leave via the Swan Quarter or Cedar Island ferries, which are on a normal schedule and have waived tolls. The Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry is operating on demand.

DOT said today in a news release that crews worked throughout yesterday and overnight to make the route safe for travel.

“I want to thank our entire team for their service and hard work on the July 4 national holiday to get N.C. 12 and the Bonner Bridge reopened so quickly after the storm," said NCDOT Sec. Tony Tata. "Safety is always our first priority, but we also know how important it is to get our Hatteras Island residents back home, and our beach tourism back on line."

Highway 12 was impassable yesterday because of sand, water and downed power lines left on the road in the wake of Hurricane Arthur. The road was closed from south of the Bonner Bridge to Ocracoke Island.

DOT says that pockets of sand and water remain on the road, so drivers should be extra cautious. There will also be a single-lane condition at the temporary bridge on Pea Island because of a damaged crane. The lane closure will be controlled by a portable traffic signal, which may lead to some delays in this area.

A scour survey and analysis of the Bonner Bridge conducted by NCDOT crews confirmed that the bridge is safe to reopen. However, there was some loss of sand around the pilings at several locations that will require additional monitoring.

Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative continues to restore scattered outages to customers on Hatteras Island and is working to straighten six leaning transmission poles in the Pea Island Area.

Tideland Electric Membership Corporation is working to restore power to Ocracoke Island. Tideland EMC experienced heavy damage to 45 poles on Highway 12 from Arthur's wind and storm surge.

Ocracoke residents are now being provided with intermittent emergency power via generator.

The three-megawatt generator is unable to run the entire island, so Tideland officials have sectionalized the island into three circuits. Each circuit was provided with two hours of power last night once electric load issues were resolved. Today those circuits will each receive three hours of power and then be shut off for six hours while the other two circuits receive their three-hour allotment of energy.

That schedule will continue until power is fully restored to the island along the Highway 12 power delivery system sometime Sunday night. Until that time, island residents are asked to practice strict conservation efforts during their designated generator run.

The National Weather Service in Newport, N.C., warns that the rip current threat is still high after Hurricane Arthur's passage. Swimmers should exercise extreme caution.

If you are caught in a rip current, do not try to swim against it.  Swim parallel to shore and head back to the beach when you are out of the force of the rip -- they are usually not very wide.

On Hatteras and Ocracoke, folks had to stop and remind themselves it was a holiday. July 4 was very subdued with the beaches closed, no fireworks or parades, and few picnics for families and friends.

Most islanders and employees of rental management companies were busy checking for hurricane damage, picking up yard debris and cutting up downed trees, or cleaning up homes and businesses that were damaged by storm surge from the Pamlico Sound.

The storm surge was most significant in the tri-villages of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo.  Avon also got tide of 1 to 2 feet, while the southern villages hardly had any water rise at all.

Today is a beautiful beach day on the island, though without summer visitors, there are few people on the seashore's beaches.

The weather is expected to be cooler and drier for at least another day before the heat and humidity return.

For more information on re-entry, go to the Dare County Emergency Management website at http://www.darenc.com/emergencymanagement/.

NCDOT provides real-time information about weather and travel conditions through its Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, including the NCDOT Facebook pageN.C. 12 Facebook page and NCDOT Ferry Facebook page. Additional information about the storm is available on the department’s other social media and web-based tools, which are easily accessible on the NCDOT website.


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