Shooting The Breeze


Hi, and welcome to my "Editor's Blog"! In this space I'll be attempting to keep our readers informed on fast-breaking news and issues affecting our islands. Visit often. There's a lot going on!

Enjoy the Island Free Press and, even more importantly, enjoy our wonderful barrier island!!!




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Looking back at 2012…WITH SLIDE SHOW

Friday 28 December 2012 at 10:32 am

For another year, a hurricane was the major news event of the year.

As the new year began last January, many folks in Avon and the tri-villages of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo were still cleaning up and rebuilding after Hurricane Irene on Aug. 27 sent a historically high storm surge from the Pamlico Sound onto northern Hatteras.

And before the year was over, we were cleaning up and rebuilding after yet another hurricane – Sandy in late October.

Sandy, which brushed by the Outer Banks, did not bring as much sound tide and did not cause as much damage to island homes and businesses as Irene did.

However, the punishing pounding of ocean waves in the huge storm once again badly damaged Highway 12.  There were no new inlets, as there were in Irene, but the road in northern Rodanthe at Mirlo Beach and the S-curves took a beating.

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Opening up, cleaning up, closing up

Friday 21 December 2012 at 5:19 pm

Highway 12 reopened to all traffic on Wednesday evening, Dec. 19.

The road was damaged in Hurricane Sandy in late October and back-to-back northeasters in November and was closed for almost two months.  

Several weeks into the closure, the North Carolina Department of Transportation opened a four-wheel-drive only bypass around the most serious damage at the S-curves in northern Rodanthe. However, that, too, was closed at most high tides until after Thanksgiving.

The only access for large trucks and two-wheel-drive vehicles was an emergency ferry between Rodanthe and Stumpy Point or by going from the mainland to Ocracoke and then taking a ferry to Hatteras.

So, Wednesday was a really important day for Hatteras and Ocracoke islanders.  We got an early Christmas gift.  We got our highway back.

Today, two days after the reopening, there were five inches of water on the highway at high tide, caused not by a northeaster but by heavy west winds behind a cold front that have brought big swells and pounding surf.

DOT had two options to replace the damaged four-tenths of a mile of highway.

Move it west or replace it where it had been.

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Talking trash – lots and lots of trash

Friday 14 December 2012 at 4:09 pm

It started with a trickle after Hurricane Sandy passed by the Outer Banks in late October with high winds and ocean and soundside flooding.

Small piles of debris started appearing along roadways.

In my neighborhood, it was understandable.  Homeowners started gathering downed tree limbs, picking up stray pieces of lumber that floated in, and raking the eel grass that ended up in their yards after the soundside flooding.

Then in certain areas, mostly along Highway 12, the piles started getting larger and larger as more and more folks started piling up their “storm” debris – most of which we all know is not storm debris.

Now there are mounds of old lumber, junk, mattresses, sofas, and even an old hot tub on the sides of some roads.

One of the largest dumps is in Frisco, not far from the firehouse.  It grew and grew until it was about as long as a football field along the highway.

It’s not in an area with a lot of homes, but along a wooded stretch.

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Thoughts on the politics of the week

Friday 07 December 2012 at 4:38 pm

There was plenty of political news this week – Hyde County fired a manager, Dare County elected new board leadership, and a close race for state Senate was finally decided.

The blog this week includes some thoughts on those developments.


Hyde County took another step toward solidifying its reputation as the most dysfunctional county in North Carolina on Monday night when the three incoming members of the Board of Commissioners voted with one current board member to dismiss the county manager by a vote of four to one.

The action came at the end of the three-hour meeting when newly elected commissioners Anson Byrd of Fairfield Township, John Fletcher of Ocracoke Township,  and Earl Pugh Jr. of Lake Landing Township, were sworn in, and Barry Swindell, Currituck Township, was elected board chairman.    Shortly after the new members were sworn in, the board went into a closed session for about a half hour.

Byrd, Fletcher, and Swindell voted for the termination.   Dick Tunnell, Swan Quarter Township, voted against, and Earl Pugh Jr. abstained, which was tantamount to a “yes” vote, according to county attorney Fred Holscher.

The county manager, Mazie Smith, has served fewer than two years in the position, and she now joins a long list of others who have quit or been fired as Hyde County manager.

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