One thing we have learned storm after storm on Hatteras Island is that when “the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
We sure learned about it in Hatteras village after Hurricane Isabel in 2003 — a storm that flattened the northern end of the village, heavily damaged the rest of it, and cut a new inlet between the village and Frisco.
Now, we’re seeing the tough get going in Hatteras village again.
Even though the damage is nowhere near as devastating as it was with Isabel’s terrifying and punishing oceanside storm surge, it is Hatteras Island’s southernmost village that bore the brunt of Hurricane Matthew’s high winds and storm surge from the Pamlico Sound that swept over the island early Sunday morning, Oct. 9.
Many residents say that the storm surge from Matthew brought higher flooding in the village than was seen in either Isabel or Hurricane Emily in 1993. In fact, some of the older people say that Hatteras village has not seen a storm surge close to Matthew since the famous hurricane of 1944.
Perhaps it will be a record, but we won’t know that for sure until the National Weather Service comes to the island to take some measurements, maybe later this week.
However, record or not, the tough folks in Hatteras village are rolling again, and again the Fire Station is their headquarters.
Mary Ellon Ballance, the president of the Ladies’ Auxiliary of Hatteras Village Volunteer Fire Department, is taking the lead and asking volunteers — residents or visitors who did not leave the island during the storm — to report to the fire station on Tuesday morning at 8:30 or after to get organized to help residents with the clean-up of their flood-damaged houses.
Ballance estimates that the flooding has damaged at least 60 or 70 homes in the village to varying degrees. Many of them will be uninhabitable — at least until they are repaired — and some residents badly need temporary rentals — or even new long-term accommodations.
She has a list of about 40 homeowners who need help and she expects that list to grow.
Also, many older people or residents with health issues need help with cleaning up yard debris, but Ballance said the first priority is the houses.
Mary Ellon’s husband, Todd, a former Hatteras fire chief, and Jeremy Hicks, the current fire chief, spent the day traveling around the village handing out clean-up kits to homeowners.
A group in Avon, Ballance said, hopes to provide lunch for the volunteers.
And, so the ball is rolling. If you can help or donate, contact Mary Ellon at 252-305-2685.
If you can offer long-term or short-term rentals, email [email protected] and we will post the information on our Hurricane Matthew Live Blog.
Other news and information from today:
Today was cloudy and winds were still fairly gusty from the north. The sun tried to peek through for short times, but the temperature was really chilly — in the low 60s. Islanders are more used to sweating while they clean up after hurricanes, not having to wear sweatshirts.
Post tropical cyclone Matthew was hundreds of miles out in the Atlantic east of Cape Hatteras today, but the storm sent punishing waves rolling over the dunes and onto roadways at today’s high tides — at about 3 a.m. this morning and again about 3:30 this afternoon.
There was overwash in north Buxton and also overwash along the oceanfront in southern areas of Avon village — south of the pier. This is an area where the beach has been eroding but overwash has not been a major problem.
Also, at about high tide at mid-afternoon, the floodwaters started rising again on the soundside on southern Hatteras, especially in Frisco and Hatteras village.
“There is just so much water in the sound, with more emptying into it from the flooding inland, I think the water will remain very close to or slightly above minor flood levels for the next several days, said Richard Bandy, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service office in Newport/Morehead City.
He said we were near a high tide this afternoon.
“It will likely push up a bit more around each high tide and create a bit more minor flooding issues for at least a few days, maybe longer. Unfortunately, we have no way of modeling how long it will take for the water levels in the sound to come down as all the water inland empties into it.”
Areas of mainland eastern North Carolina are dealing with major flooding issues on the rivers that may rival the flooding from Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
Bobby Outten, Dare County’s manager, said teams were spread out up and down Hatteras Island today, and that some preliminary damage estimates should be ready to be released by tomorrow.
Most roadways are passable on Hatteras Island.
NCDOT is working on Highway 12 on northern Pea Island which is covered with sand and water. Dare County says travel should be attempted only by drivers in high-profile four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Some side streets in the villages still have water in places that ranges from puddles to pretty deep. Use caution.
LITTLE INLET ON HATTERAS SPIT
This afternoon, the Pamlico Sound waters were meeting the wave run-up from the ocean along the Pole Road, which leads out to what is left of the Hatteras Island spit. Hatteras Island District Ranger Joe Darling was called down to check out the situation, and his photos are in the slide show with this article.
A similar “little inlet” opened and then closed after Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and left a fan-shaped flat in the area, which was popular with shorebirds.
The second of two run-away barges from the Bonner Bridge construction site washed up near Avon today.
The first one lodged itself next to the bulkhead of a rental house yesterday, and the second one was stuck on a shoal out in the sound between Askins Creek and the Canadian Hole.
Both of the barge are tool barges — as in they carry tools — said N.C. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Nicole Meister.
She said both barges were moored at a location in the sound about 8 miles southwest of Bonner Bridge. This location was coordinated with the regulatory agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard at the beginning of construction.
The barge on the sandbar has the impact hammer, so it heavy, Meister said. DOT resident engineer Pablo Hernandez, the bridge contractor, and a marine company are in Avon figuring out how to remove the barges. They hope to get one removed tonight and the other, tomorrow.
Meister said there was no damage at the construction site.
CAPE HATTERAS SECONDARY SCHOOL
Mary Ellon Ballance is busy these days, since she is also the newly elected Hatteras Island representative to the Dare County Board of Education.
Although there was storm surge flooding all around Cape Hatteras Secondary School of Coastal Studies on the sound in Buxton — in the parking lot and some of the athletic fields — there is no major damage, Ballance said today.
“They prepared that school for a major hurricane,” she said — even putting sandbags around the doors and other vulnerable locations.
There was some water that seeped into the cafeteria, which was cleaned up and sanitized today by Principal Beth Haneman-Rooks with help from janitors and other staff. Some of the carpet in the library is also wet, Ballance said, and will have to be dealt with.
An old part of the building where a breezeway and a door lead to some seldom-used classrooms had a half-inch to an inch of water in it and has been cleaned up.
All Dare County Schools are closed again tomorrow, but reopening Cape Hatteras Secondary shouldn’t be a problem, Ballance said.
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
All National Park Service visitor facilities on the Outer Banks, including the ramps on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore are closed. Parking areas, the grounds, and beaches are open.
NEWS TO USE
Curfews have been lifted in unincorporated Dare, including Hatteras.
Non-resident property owners with “South of Hatteras Inlet” re-entry permits or a current county property tax receipt will be allowed back on Hatteras Island beginning at 7 a.m. on Tuesday.
Non-resident employees of businesses will be allowed back with a re-entry pass.
Visitors. Dare County, says, “We realize that visitors are anxiously awaiting to receive notice to enter Dare County. It is important for Dare County Emergency Management and local officials to ensure that infrastructure and services are in place to properly accommodate guests. No announcement on visitors is expected before Tuesday afternoon, so stay tuned.
Dare County offices are open Tuesday.
Dare County District Court scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 11, has been cancelled. Anyone having a court date scheduled for the 11th will be notified by U.S. mail with their new court date. Questions or concerns may be directed to the Dare County Clerks Office at 252-475-5200 upon reopening.
Dare County Public Works customers scheduled for trash collection on Monday will receive service on Tuesday. Tuesday’s customers will receive service on Wednesday.
Residents and visitors can contact Dare County Emergency Management by calling 252.475.5655 or visiting www.darenc.com for updated information.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW SLIDE SHOW
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