July 7, 2014
Tri-villages struggle to get Arthur's mess cleaned
up, even as visitors return...WITH SLIDE SHOW
By CATHERINE KOZAK
was the sour fish-bowl smell in the air that made it obvious that
Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo did not escape the wrath of Hurricane Arthur.
While most of the Outer Banks, except the Manteo waterfront,
fared better than expected, the tri-villages suffered substantial sound
tide that flooded homes and businesses, leaving residents and merchants
devoting the July Fourth holiday weekend to cleanup chores.
of the southern villages on Hatteras Island, spared the worst of the
high water the storm had threatened, breathed a sigh relief, but it
wasn't so in the tri-villages.
As Arthur moved north at
about 4 a.m. Friday, the sound quickly rose as high as five feet in the
tri-villages and receded nearly as quickly.
But it was long
enough to ruin the contents of many homes and businesses from Salvo to
Mirlo Beach. Gardens filled with ripe produce and blooming flowers were
also wiped out. A cemetery along the highway, left trashed and in
disarray by the tide, was ignored while people worked to wipe up more
“Everything in here was wet,” said
Denise Lane, sitting on her sofa while several de-humidifiers roared in
the background. “The chair and the couch - it just sucks it up.”
furniture was put outside on a tarp to air out. Lane, who lives with
her mother, Lela Mae Fulcher, in her house -- parts of which are more
than a century old -- said that it is the worst flooding they’ve seen
since Hurricane Irene.
“It didn’t used to flood,” she said. “But now it seems it does every time.”
damage assessments released Monday by Dare County confirmed that the
northern villages took the biggest hit. All of Dare County was
estimated to have $1.96 million in damages. Of that $1.6 million was on
Hatteras Island and most in the tri-villages.
the county found 38 structures had minor damage and nine had major
damage with total estimated damages of $1.37 million. In Waves, one
structure had minor damage and one had major damage with total
estimated damages of $22,000. In Salvo, 17 structures had minor damage,
with total estimated damages of $122,000.
No structures were destroyed in any of the villages.
only significant damage south of Salvo was at Cape Hatteras Electric
Cooperative in Buxton, with an estimated $100,000 in losses.
Sunday, piles of smelly waterlogged debris lined Highway 12 – remnants
of decking, soggy furniture, drowned plants and broken tree
The National Weather Service estimated that the
sound tide was 2 to 4 feet south of Hatteras and 3 to 5 feet
north of Hatteras. The exact number will be available on
Tuesday after surveys are completed today, said forecaster Hal Austin.
Canadian couple who are regular vacationers at St. Clair Landing
campground pitched in to help numerous people who had lost their
trailers in the surge.
“I was helping somebody in their trailer,” said Sue Leyzac, from Ontario, “and their pots and pans were filled with seaweed.”
After letting residents re-enter early on July 5, the Dare County Control Group opened access to everyone at 4 p.m.
there are some homes and businesses dealing with serious issues caused
by Hurricane Arthur,” the county said in a press release, “it has been
determined that the general level of conditions and infrastructure
services” were adequate.
But some business owners felt having tourists pouring into the island while they were still cleaning up was premature.
people who were here all day cleaning, they didn’t have any time to
recover,” said Barbara Bullock, manager of Ocean Waves Campground in
Salvo. “I had campers come in right at 4 o’clock. It was crazy.”
said that it would have been better if the county waited until Sunday
morning to open the island to tourists. Considering that some
workers and business owners had left the island, they only had a matter
of hours to mop up before visitors returned.
As it was, she
said, there wasn’t enough time to finish repairs and cleaning. Six feet
of water had surged into the campground in less than 20 minutes from
the sound, she said, the worst since Hurricane Irene.
said the campground, which has been in business 30 years, would have
been worse off if their loyal repeat customers hadn’t lent a hand.
“They jumped right to it,” she said. “They helped us tremendously today.”
Robertson, owner of Pea Island Art Gallery in Salvo, said that she
understands why some business owners would be upset that the county
allowed re-entry, but at the same time she understands how important
the tourist business is.
“For some people, absolutely, it
opened too soon,” she said, pausing from cleaning debris from the
gallery’s yard. “But I would say the largest percentage of people need
Robertson added that it may be difficult
for tourists to realize how hard business owners have worked to get
their establishments back into shape – “all day and all night,” she
said -- and it would be helpful if there was more patience.
“Although I do support people coming in,” Robertson said, “I hope there’s kindness.”
kiteboarding school that faces the sound at Kitty Hawk Kites in Waves
was pounded by the storm surge, with much damage to the interior and
exterior of the building. The floating dock was destroyed.
that the business is based in Nags Head, the re-entry allowed staff
from elsewhere to come in to assist in repair and clean-up, said Jessie
Piacenza, human resources manager for Kitty Hawk Kites.
“Of course, we want to be safe,” she said. “But even if we have customers here, we can work around them.”
said that if businesses are located only on the island, often times the
preference would be to wait to open access until clean-up is done. But
for businesses with multiple locations on the Outer Banks, the
preference is usually to open up as soon as possible to get the
resources in to access damage and do repairs.
owner of Atlantic Coast Café in Waves, said that the tri-villages,
especially Rodanthe, took the brunt of the storm – just like they did
in hurricanes Irene and Sandy.
Propane tanks were dislodged, decks
were destroyed, signage was blown down, sheds floated from yards, mud
coated walls and merchandise.
Kamins said that more needs to
be done to prevent repeated storm damage. For instance, he said the
beaches in Rodanthe should be nourished with sand to widen them . But
he said the most immediate need is for people to get the support they
need to get their lives and livelihoods back in order.
many of the businesses, we were closed for the most important holiday
weekend of the season,” he said. “So it’s a burden for everybody on the
Despite the damage, Kamins said he did not take
issue with tourists coming back as early as they did. His concern was
more for things like the safety of those stuck on the aged Bonner
Bridge trying to get back to the island.
“The problem was there was so much traffic,” he said. “It was bumper-to-bumper.”
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