Hatteras Village fire station was swarming with activity on Tuesday
afternoon as volunteers from all across the island congregated in the
central location to pick up work crew assignments, help serve lunch to
hungry volunteers and residents, and assist with the massive clean-up
that is ongoing in Hatteras village in the wake of Hurricane Matthew's
Boxes of bottled water, bleach, cleaning kits,
MREs (ready to eat meals), and other supplies were piled high in the
center of the fire station, while a group of local residents set up a
long buffet of hamburgers and hot dogs, side dishes, and desserts to
one side. The line for all stations – both for supplies and food -
remained steady, with both volunteers and local residents popping in to
pick up work assignments, grab lunch, or just ask for a little extra
One couple who approached the desk manned by the
outreach organizer and president of the Ladies' Auxiliary of Hatteras
Village Volunteer Fire Department, Mary Ellon Ballance, had stopped by
to request a pair of gloves.
“We’re dealing with something in our home… I’m
not sure what it is, but it smells like raw sewage, so gloves would be
appreciated,” said the requester. He was quickly given a full box of
Other people who were piling into the fire
station were just grabbing a quick bite before returning to work. A
group of U.S. Coast Guard personnel were taking a breather at an
outdoor picnic table before returning “to the field.”
“We’re just going around doing what they need us
to do,” said Coast Guardsman Joey Bunn. “There’s a crew to respond to
what’s happening on the water, but the rest of us are helping in
Hatteras, in any way we can.”
Gaskins, who helped serve lunch with a team of six members of the
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and four other community
volunteers, estimated that roughly 240 to 250 stopped by to grab a meal
on Tuesday before heading back out to the various homes and businesses
that had been inundated with the highest storm flooding that most
Hatteras residents had seen in their lifetime.
donations for the day’s meal were received from Food Lion, Ketch 55,
Bros Sandwich Shack, Oceana's and Dirty Dick's, as well as desserts
that were baked by community members.
serving lunch today,” Gaskins said, “And then we will assess and see
what we need to do next…. The CERT Team is on call, and we will help as
sheer number of people flowing through the Hatteras fire station like a
makeshift assembly line was inspirational, but a drive through southern
Hatteras village made it abundantly clear to any passerby that there
was still miles of work to be done.
Hatteras waterfront area surrounding Oden’s Dock remained a mess, with
twisted docks and boardwalks bordering waterfront structures that had
doors with the bottom half missing, windows blown out, and interiors
wiped clean. The Hatteras Marlin Club had a twisted boardwalk
and bulkhead, as well as high waters that made it impossible to drive
through without a truck or very high clearance. And the remnants of the
storm clean-up itself – like piles of soaked carpeting, ruined
furnishings, and piles of eel grass – were stacked high all along
Ernie Foster of the Albatross Fleet, who has been a local waterman for
more than 50 years, was busy attending to his dock house on the edge of
the Hatteras waterfront.
“Our dock house and storage shed had water for the first time ever,” he said.
is the highest tide I’ve ever seen in my lifetime,” said Foster.
“[1993’s] Hurricane Emily was the highest tide that my father had ever
seen here, and this one was 8 inches higher than Emily.”
indicated the mark where Emily had approached just outside the dock
house door, and then stepped inside to show how high the sound had
risen with Matthew, on a built-in shelf that still had a few stray
pieces of seaweed attached.
“I woke up at around 4 a.m.,” he said. “It wasn’t even blowing here, and then WHAM.
good thing is that people don’t have to listen to us old-timers anymore
about ‘how high the tide was back when,'” added Ernie. “…And in 50
years, they’ll be able to say ‘2016 was the highest tide I’d ever
Tuesday afternoon, volunteers from all over the island were hard at
work repairing or replacing the long stretch of docks that border the
Hatteras harbor and / or removing debris. And while the area is in the
early but substantial stages of being transformed back to what it
looked like just a few days ago, there is still a long way to go.
Burrus, Dare County commissioner and owner of Burrus Red & White
Supermarket, was also busy getting his store in order – which was
officially open for the first time on Tuesday since Matthew’s arrival.
“We had 2 inches of flooding inside, and 14 to 18 inches at the door,”
he said. “As far as flooding is concerned, this is the highest I’ve
ever seen in the village itself.
“The house next door was built in the 1950s and never had water in it,” he said. “And this time, it got 2 inches of water.”
also noted that the rising water that crept into the village with the
afternoon high tide had a tendency to slow down the massive recovery
hinders our clean-up efforts in the afternoon,” he said, “but it’s not
showing up as much in the morning, so we can get a lot of it done then.”
as well as several other Hatteras village residents, estimates that
roughly 60 to 70 homes and businesses had saltwater flooding damage,
which included the local Yadkin Bank, Teach’s Lair Marina, Oden’s Dock,
Sonny’s Restaurant, and other local landmarks that lure visitors to
Hatteras village in the first place.
still recovering from Isabel, economically, and Rodanthe is still
recovering from Irene,” he said. “And now we’ve had two bad hits in
just a little over a month.”
Burrus did note, however, that the massive community efforts were the bright side of the devastation.
always great that people come here from one end of the island to the
other to work together and get things done,” he said. “The kids
especially -” he added, referring to the local Hatteras Island
schoolchildren who were hard at work in Hatteras since the Cape
Hatteras schools were closed on Tuesday. “They are working really hard
and are helping so much.”
Ernie Foster echoed these sentiments. “Having experience with [storms]
allows you to deal with it. Psychologically, you’re more prepared,” he
said. “You think ‘Oh my neighbor needs help? Of course! I’ll be right
there!’ That’s just life on an island.”
“The bad times around here bring out the best in us.”
HELP IS STILL NEEDED
Help will still be needed in Hatteras village in the days and weeks to come to get the community back on its feet.
to Erin Thomas, who is working on the storm response led by Mary Ellon
Balance, there is a list of more than 40 homeowners who need help with
clean-up efforts, as well as an equally long list of displaced
residents who are in need of long-term rentals.
In addition, help is also available to anyone in the village who needs assistance.
residents who are struggling with storm recovery, the Salvation Army
has arrived at the Hatteras Fire Department to provide food, and the
station is stocked with water, clean-up kits, mops, and additional
The Buxton fire station and the Frisco fire station also have supply kits available for residents as well.
in need can stop by the Buxton, Frisco, or Hatteras fire stations to
pick up a cleaning kit, or can stop by the Hatteras village station for
food and to request additional help.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
volunteers who want to help with the clean-up efforts can stop by the
Hatteras Village Fire Station at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday to assist
residents with flood-damaged houses.
In addition, anyone who can provide short-term or long-term housing for displaced residents can email [email protected].
donations are also greatly appreciated, and all donations can be sent
to the Hatteras Ladies Auxiliary, PO Box 164, Hatteras, NC 27943, with
the attention / check note of “Matthew Relief.”
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