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!

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Looking Back A Year After Hurricane Matthew

Friday 06 October 2017 at 9:50 pm

“We’re still recovering from Hurricane Matthew.”

This sentiment has been echoed quite a bit in the last year.

It’s a phrase that was heard all across the island after the summer power outage, after the menacing approach of Jose and Maria, and after just about every island-wide setback we’ve encountered since last October.

And it’s 100% accurate. Matthew may have eventually arrived in our area on October 9, 2016, as a post tropical cyclone, but the former Category 5 storm left a lot of local damage in its wake.

Record breaking storm surge levels were recorded in Hatteras village with 5.8 feet of water in some areas. A number of lifelong locals reported that the last time they saw water levels remotely close to Matthew was in 1944. And officials estimated that the storm caused $52 million in damages to Dare County alone.

At least 60-70 homes were flooded in Hatteras Village and had to be renovated or demolished. And with local contractors in high demand - and a long wait to acquire funds from insurance companies, grants, loans, personal savings, and any source that was available – rebuilding was a slow process.

So it’s no wonder that nearly a year after Matthew paid Hatteras Island a brief visit that locals and visitors are still getting back on their feet. Take a drive through Hatteras village, and you’ll still see Matthew-related repairs in progress as homes continue to be raised, renovated, or torn down completely.

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How Does the Highly Active 2017 Hurricane Season Compare?

Friday 22 September 2017 at 5:47 pm


As Jose departs our offshore waters, and Maria figures out whether she will take his place, it’s easy to see why so many folks are already calling 2017 one of the busiest hurricane seasons on record.

We’re already up to “M” after all, (does anyone even remember Katia and Lee? Or Bret? Or Cindy? Or Don?) And it feels like we’ve all been checking the National Hurricane Center website obsessively since mid-July.

But how does 2017 statistically compare to previous active years?

Earlier in the summer, NOAA released its hurricane forecast for the year and warned that 2017 was going to be an “above average” season. They predicted that there would be 14-19 named storms, (which included April's Tropical Storm Arlene.) Five to nine of these were forecast to become hurricanes, and two to five of these would become major hurricanes. This original forecast was well above the Atlantic Basin's 30-year historicalaverage (1981-2010) of 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.

And NOAA’s initial forecast appears to be spot on, if not a little lenient.

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Day at the Docks, Then and Now – Remembering the Roots of a New Hatteras Village Tradition

Friday 15 September 2017 at 10:07 pm


It was one of those bone-chilling days, drizzly and gray. A stiff 20-knot wind whipped the faces of the crowd in Hatteras that had gathered at sunset at Village Marina. But everyone wore big smiles, waving and cheering as boats coming through Hatteras Harbor chugged past them.

This was a celebration – of resiliency, of community and of watermen. One year earlier, on Sept. 18 2003, Hatteras village was devastated by Hurricane Isabel. The storm slashed a 1,700-foot wide inlet through the east end of the village, cutting it off from the rest of the island for nearly two months. Watermen were the lifeline to the outside world, and they took on the role with kindness, dedication and unfailing generosity.

“We had to show that we had survived because of the watermen,” recalls Lynne Foster, one of the organizers. “They were the only suppliers – because they were able to get off the island.”

All of Hatteras Island pitched in to help the villagers, she says, but the watermen were at the front lines. Fishermen kept fish and money coming into the village, fishhouses kept operating, and charter captains and boat owners ferried people and supplies back and forth.  With the first year anniversary, Foster says, it was important for the community to celebrate not only its survival, but also its fishing village heritage.

This weekend, the Day at the Docks again honors that community spirit, as the village marks the 14th anniversary of Isabel. But the event that began as a modest gathering has taken on a life of its own, seemingly building alongside the village as it built itself back.

The first Day at the Docks in 2004 did not have that catchy alliterative name. It was called the Blessing of the Hatteras Fleet. By necessity, it was kept simple, and it wasn’t only because of the wounds from Isabel.
As the Hatteras Village Civic Association was making plans to mark the one-year anniversary of Isabel, Hurricane Alex, barely a Category 2 storm, swept through on August 3.  Residents were caught off-guard when the wind shifted to the northwest and tides surged 4 to 6 feet from Ocracoke to Buxton. Nearly 700 vehicles were lost, and high water and winds again damaged homes and businesses that had barely recovered from Isabel.  

In a column in the Sept. 2004 Island Breeze written by Irene Nolan, who edited that publication before launching the Island Free Press, she details how numerous businesses damaged in Isabel suffered more flooding in Alex: Sandy Bay Gallery, Oden’s Dock, Beach Pharmacy, among others.  A few that escaped Isabel’s wrath were slammed by Alex, such as Sea Weeds, a garden shop in Frisco.

“The week after Alex,” Nolan wrote, “owner Becky Marlin had a sign hanging on the fence of the garden shop that said, ‘Sea Weeds Garden Shop has a fine selection of plants – most of them DEAD.’”

Nolan, who died in March at age 70, was a good friend of mine, and we often rode together on the boat that transported people from Frisco to the village when the road was being repaired.  Always the consummate newswoman, Nolan, who lived in Frisco, was also a devoted member of the island community, and she was often moved by the acts of kindness, as well as the resourcefulness, she observed during the months after Isabel.

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