October 2018 at 9:09 pm
A lot can change in a week, and this is certainly the case when it comes to hurricanes.
In the days leading up to Florence’s arrival, everyone was glued to the all-too-familiar National Hurricane Center’s Forecast Cone, to see if Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands were in the dreaded white projected center of the storm.
And for quite a while, we most definitely were.
This is why when a mandatory evacuation was called on Monday, September 10, a number of islanders who rarely leave for hurricanes packed up their vehicles and hit the road. Many of these residents hadn’t left for a storm since 2011’s Irene or even 2003’s Isabel, and most evacuees made sure to pack along their irreplaceable belongings in case they couldn’t come back.
In retrospect, this may seem like pessimism at its most paranoid, but you have to remember that for a number of days, it appeared very likely that Hatteras and Ocracoke islands were going to be hit by a Category 3 or 4 storm. The worst case scenario had us directly in the crosshairs, with Florence stalling and hovering for days, inundating the island with unprecedented rain and storm surge.
Indeed, this is exactly what happened, but it didn’t happen on Hatteras or Ocracoke islands.
In the days that followed the evacuation, Florence’s projected path – which had originally been aimed at the Outer Banks – continually shifted south, until the islands were subsequently outside the Forecast Cone altogether. And while every single village was impacted with ocean overwash during the storm, the islands were spared the brunt of the damage.
Florence eventually made landfall as a Category 1 on Wrightsville Beach – much weaker, and much further south, than originally forecasted. Read More
September 2018 at 5:59 pm
By JOY CRIST
Hatteras and Ocracoke islands were gratefully spared the bulk of Hurricane Florence – a fact that was lost on no one in the community. Even the Dare County Board of Commissioners focused on the sheer luck that moved Florence away from a direct hit to the Outer Banks at their Monday meeting, with Emergency Management Director Drew Pearson commenting that the line between minimal damage and devastation was “a matter of 50 miles to the right.”
But because this is a community that is all too familiar with the destruction and months of rebuilding that a storm can cause, islanders from Rodanthe to Ocracoke turned their attention inland. The Down East region was hit hard by Florence, and it did not take long for grassroots and more organized support efforts to start popping up in abundance.
On the Sunday following Florence, Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative sent four volunteer linemen to Carteret County to help with the roughly 30,000 folks who were still without power after the storm, while organizations like the North Carolina Fisheries Association asked for both information on damage and assistance in providing help and supplies to those affected. CHSS Foods and Nutrition Teacher Evan Ferguson and her class prepared comfort food to send along to East Carteret County High School, while the Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men – a longtime resource for islanders after a storm – started planning a large relief effort, asking for both volunteers and funds. Local businesses like the Cape Hatteras Motel started fundraising campaigns as well, asking visitors staying at the motel to bring along a non-perishable item or two for folks in need.
Hatteras and Ocracoke islands were gratefully spared the bulk of Hurricane Florence – a fact that was lost on no one in the community. Even the Dare County Board of Commissioners focused on the sheer luck that moved Florence away from a direct hit to the Outer Banks at their Monday meeting, with Emergency Management Director Drew Pearson commenting that the line between minimal damage and devastation was “a matter of 50 miles to the right.” Read More
September 2018 at 10:08 pm
By JOY CRIST
Editor's Note: The Commission for Working Watermen reorganization meeting scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 13, 2018 is cancelled due to the possibility of bad weather associated with Hurricane Florence.
On Thursday, September 13, a meeting will be held at the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Center at 7 p.m. to discuss the reorganization the Dare County Commission for Working Watermen.
Open to the public, (and especially commercial fishermen with new voices to add to the conversation), the meeting is the first step in reviving a commission that has been quietly overlooked for years.
This new interest in jump-starting the commission began with Susan West.
West, a journalistand researcher with a particular focus on commercial fishing communities, was fresh off a project for North Carolina Sea Grant, where she interviewed and talked with commercial fishermen, community leaders, and elected officials from Colington to southern Brunswick County. (A fantastic article by West about the project, which was called Next Generation Coastal Communities, can be found online here: https://ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/coastwatch/previous-issues/2018-2/spring-2018/charting-the-course/.)
During her extensive research, West uncovered a few themes that directed her focus to the Commission for Working Watermen – a commission that she actually used to cover regularly for, (you guessed it), Irene Nolan and the Island Free Press.
“[The commission] has been at the back of my mind for the last couple of years,” she said. “What happened to the commission? Why haven’t they met?”
“During [the project], I interviewed a lot of community leaders and elected officials, and something I heard over and over again from elected officials is that they often don’t hear about issues or problems until fishermen have been working on them for months, if not years.”
“This is a great way for the county to be more proactive in working on ideas to sustain the fishing industry in North Carolina well into the future,” she added. “The county does a great job supporting commercial fishermen on local issues, but a more proactive approach really would be valuable at this time.”
After talking with Hatteras Island County Commissioner Danny Couch, West spoke during the public comments section of the August 20 Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting in regards to revisiting the Commission for Working Watermen. Read More