Much has happened on Hatteras Island since I last wrote about Hurricane Matthew’s destructive visit to Hatteras on Oct. 9.
Again, let me say, what a difference a week makes!
In the past week, the piles of debris from so many homes flooded by the storm surge have piled up like tiny mountains along Highway 12 and the narrow side streets of Frisco and Hatteras villages. Even having to look at the debris from so many interrupted lives is heartbreaking.
We’ve had little rain since the hurricane, and I’ve noticed that the salt-burned vegetation, especially on southern Hatteras, is beginning to turn brown. The sea oats along the dunes, so heavy with their golden seed heads before the storm, are now stripped almost bare from the winds.
What has also happened in the past week, is that villagers have mobilized once again to help each other and more help for the island has come from everywhere.
Hatteras may not look as lovely as usual, but you can be assured that the islanders have not lost their spirit.
You can see and read about it every day on the Hatteras village Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HatterasVillage/.
Much of the help for villagers was centered at the fire stations, especially in Hatteras village, where Mary Ellon Ballance, president of the Hatteras Volunteer Fire Department’s Ladies’ Auxiliary, started everything going just days after the storm by organizing work teams to help villagers with damaged homes. She had plenty of help from so many people.
Folks came from all over Hatteras Island to help — neighbors helping neighbors. And then they came from places such as the Coast Guard Station in Elizabeth City and other volunteer fire departments in cities like Smithfield, Va.
Visitors to the island stopped by the fire station to donate and to volunteer.
Other volunteers collected clothing at the Buxton United Methodist Church and still others opened Really Really Free Markets in Hatteras village and Frisco.
A company in Kitty Hawk that specializes in marketing and branding, called Identify Yourself, designed a Hurricane Matthew T-shirt with all proceeds going to the Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men to help families with disaster relief. You can get your very own T-shirt by going to their website, www.helpforhatteras.com.
And one of the most touching stories to come out of Hurricane Matthew might be called, “It takes a village to pull off a wedding after a major storm on a tiny island.”
The story of the marriage of Tori Ballance and Andy Liposky, less than a week after the storm tore through Hatteras village, was photographed and written by island photographer Daniel Pullen. You will find it on his website at http://www.danielpullenphotography.com/community/.
“The Community of Hatteras Village,” Daniel wrote at the end of the story, “and the people of Hatteras Island, are a blessed people. Blessed because they have the most important resource ever?. each other.”
There are so many more heart-warming stories of help and kindness. I don’t pretend to know all of them and couldn’t begin to tell them all if I did.
All of the villages are now open to visitors, and there are many on the island — for which we are grateful.
As you drive down Hatteras Island, you won’t notice much damage in the northern villages of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo. There’s been some damage in Avon. As you come to Buxton, you will start noticing the piles of debris along the highway from the storm surge. And you will continue to see the piles getting larger through Frisco and then into Hatteras village.
We hope you will enjoy your visit and be respectful of areas where recovery is ongoing. Driving around to get a better look at storm damage isn’t encouraged.
However, be assured that islanders and our businesses welcome you back. Patronizing our businesses is one of the best ways to help us get back on our feet.
In Hatteras village, restaurants and damaged marinas are getting back into business, so it would be great if you want to go out to dinner or book a charter fishing trip.
And the beach is just as beautiful as always, and I’ve been told the fish are biting.
The ocean has brought some great waves for surfers, but it’s also been very rough with swells from various offshore storms continuing to hit the beaches. They are impressive to see, but can be challenging even for the strongest swimmers. So be careful.
Park rangers warn that there are massive rip currents along the beaches. It might be safest to admire the waves from the beach!
Many regular visitors to Hatteras have been interested in how they can be part of the recovery. Here are some of the local organizations that are helping islanders and will welcome your monetary donations:
Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men. This group runs a food pantry at Buxton United Methodist Men and also has an emergency assistance program for islanders. Checks should be written to United Methodist Men and mailed to Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men, P.O Box 1591, Buxton, NC 27920.
Hatteras Volunteer Fire Department Ladies’ Auxiliary. Send to P.O. Box 164, Hatteras, NC 27943. Write “Hurricane Relief” on the memo line.
The Outer Banks Community Foundation is coordinating monetary donations for Hatteras Island and other parts of Dare County. Donations can be made online at www.obx.disaster.org or mailed to the Outer Banks Community Foundation, 13 Skyline Road, Southern Shores, NC 27949. Enter Disaster Relief in the memo line.