December 9, 2014

UPDATE:  Coastal storm still walloping Hatteras
but highway stays open...WITH SLIDE SHOW


The coastal storm that has been torturing the Outer Banks since early Sunday morning brought more overwash at this morning's high tide, but Highway 12 has stayed open and all communications on Hatteras are back to normal -- as in texting, e-mailing, Facebook.

Today was cool and drizzly, but the wind has diminished.  The ocean, however, remains whipped into a fury, and sand and surging waves washed over the island again,  especially in north Buxton.

Highway 12 through all of Hatteras Island has been officially open at all times since late yesterday afternoon, but travel can be rough at high tide.  And some overwash problems will probably last for another day or so at high tide.

Here's how it goes:  Ocean dumps sand and water on the highway.  North Carolina Department of Transportation's intrepid crews get busy with their equipment and start pushing the sand and water off the highway.  They work around the traffic, which is stopped at times while they proceed.

Islanders are used to motoring in these conditions, but visitors are often not -- and even some regulars have been rattled at times with this week's mess.

The water can get deep in places.  There is often little warning when you approach standing ocean water.  It can be almost impossible to see the lines on the highway and to gauge the water's depth, so running off the road into wet sand is a threat. There is likely to be debris on the highway.

Needless to say, travel should not be attempted in small, low cars.  Four-wheel-drive vehicles are best. Go slow, pay attention, and watch for DOT equipment.

There is a promise of sunny skies by week's end, though it will be cool for the Hatteras Village Christmas Parade on Saturday and all the other events this weekend on the island.  This year's parade will be broadcast live on Radio Hatteras.  So if you are in your vehicle along the side of Highway 12 in the village, you can stay toasty inside and get the play-by-play on the festivities. Tune your radio to 101.5 FM.

A few storm notes worthy of mention:

Customers of Century Link Internet service may still not be able to get onto the Island Free Press website.  Our tech guy at Hatteras Designs, Jim Boyd, is working hard with Century Link to solve the issues.  If it's not fixed by now, it will be soon.  And this is a problem with wired Internet service only.  You can go online with your cell phone or other wireless device.

We want to give a big shout-out to the outstanding, hard-working volunteers at Radio Hatteras, who used more technical wizardry than mere mortals can imagine to get the station back on the air after yesterday morning's communications blackout. 

Despite what you may think, the radio station does not travel through the air to you. It needs technical assistance -- like cables bringing fiber-optic lines down the island. The power remained stable all day, but that's where it ended.  The communications blackout began at about 9:30 and ended at 4 p.m. However, Radio Hatteras was back on the air about 12:30 with updates on the situation for clueless folks without Internet and cell phones. Let's hear it for Lou Browning, Mike Hennessey, and Richard Marlin.

Finally, I want to nominate Carol Dillon, who owns the Outer Banks Motel in Buxton, for the woman-of-the-century award -- or something like that.  Once again yesterday, we saw photos of Miss Carol, who is now well up into her 80s, in her chest waders in front of her business trying to beat back the Atlantic Ocean. I can't tell you how familiar that image is to those of us who live here -- in hurricanes, northeasters, you name it. 

Miss Carol is nothing but outspoken and unrelenting in her opinions about the fact that she doesn't think federal and state agencies have done one thing to solve the lousy hand that Mother Nature has dealt Hatteras Island and probably even have contributed to it. No doubt she's stepped on some bureaucratic toes and maybe folks get tired of hearing from her.

But, she's lived on the eroding Hatteras coastline all her life and, at this point, she can say whatever she wants in my book. She is a lady to be admired and respected.


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