Visitors begin to return, Hatteras still inaccessible

By on August 28, 2011

Click to see a Coast Guard video of Hatteras Island damage »

As the rest of the Outer Banks began returning to normal Monday, backup ferries were shuttling supplies and emergency workers onto Hatteras Island and offering service back to the mainland for people with special needs.

Five breaches — at least one deep enough to resemble an inlet — have isolated the island and decimated N.C 12 north of Rondanthe. There was no estimate from the North Carolina Department of Transportation on how long repairs to the road might take.

“NCDOT is doing an assessment of the compromised area and working diligently to restore the road,” Dare County said in a statement Monday. “Highway 12 is open from Rodanthe all the way to Hatteras Village, providing a transportation link between all the Hatteras Island villages.”

Meanwhile, visitors were allowed back into most of Dare County Monday. Duck, where problems with N.C. 12 delayed re-entry, will be open for vacationers Tuesday at 10 p.m. as will the Currituck Outer Banks communities of Corolla and Carova.

When the rest of the northern beach communities re-opened at noon, there appeared to be some confusion about access to the Currituck Outer Banks. But with Duck closed to visitors, no access was available to the north.

N.C. 12 in Duck had been closed as officials assessed whether Saturday’s rushing sound waters had undermined the road, the only route to the Currituck Outer Banks.

“The soundside flooding last night was epic,” Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Warren Judge said Sunday at a press conference with local officials. “Entire neighborhoods were engulfed.”

The sound came to the edge of the bypass in Nags Head, and covered the causeway.

Southern Shores Mayor Hal Denny said there were reports of 100 to 150 downed trees, as well as soundside and canal-side flooding

Beach south of Jennette's Pier. (Catherine Kozak)

“I don’t know of any homes that had water in their living areas,” he said.

Gary Perry, Kitty Hawk mayor pro-tem, said that the ocean side of Kitty Hawk fared well, but Kitty Hawk village experienced “historic” sound tide.

Mayor Ray Sturza of Kill Devil Hills also said he has never seen the sound come up so high in the 25 years he has lived in the town.

Beach nourishment in Nags Head did what it was supposed to do, said Mayor Bob Oakes.

“For the first time in my memory, we did not have any overwash over our Beach Road,” he said.

Oakes said after the briefing that even the beaches in South Nags Head were still wide.

Manteo Town Manager Kermit Skinner said that there has been very little structural damage reported, but the amount of soundside flooding in Manteo was unprecedented

“A great number of businesses have been impacted by water,” he said.

Tod Clissold, owner of Poor Richard’s Sandwich Shop in Manteo, said it was a lousy way to end a great season, with at least a foot of water inside his eatery.

Cleaning up at Poor Richard's. (Ben Walton)

“This is the worst we’ve ever seen it,” he said late Sunday morning. “We are completely flooded out. We’ll know more of the extent of the damage tomorrow, but it doesn’t look good.”

Wanchese and Stumpy Point were also severely affected by sound tide flooding. Some roads in Wanchese were still inaccessible on Sunday.

County Manager Bobby Outten said there were reports of six feet or even more of sound tide. Water came into the fire station on Colington Island, and was up to the fire bay in Avon, he said.

Dare County Sheriff Doug Doughtie said that there have been no reports of vandalism or looting. One injury from a fall was reported in the vicinity of Avon, he said, but it was not believed to be serious.

Power is still out in many neighborhoods. Check here for updates.

[nggallery id=16]Scenes from Manteo Saturday, submitted by Kermit Skinner. Click on an image to see the slide show.

Access and communication to Hatteras Island were cut off. A major breach near Rodanthe and others have decimated N.C. 12, which carries cables and is the only land route on Hatteras Island.

The county said plans are under way to help people who might have been displaced. Shelters will be available if needed. To find out more, call (252) 475-5655.

Pilings are all that remain of the iconic Billy Stinson house on Soundside Road in Nags Head. (Catherine Kozak)

Counties throughout eastern North Carolina reported downed trees and powerlines. The North Carolina Department of Transportation said dozens of highways and secondary roads were blocked.

The onrush of water wiped out the iconic Billy Stinson house, which was on pilings over the water along Soundside Road in Nags Head. The house, more than 90 years old, was one of the original Nags Head cottages.

Martha Morrisette Bostic sorts through debris on Soundside Road. (Catherine Kozak)

“I came back last night and the water starting rolling over the road,” said Gayle Morrisette Felton. “The waves were splashing up over Billy Stinson’s house and going over the roof.”

Her parents bought the house down the road from the Stinson cottage in 1944. It used to be the Griffin post office in 1907.

“It came in really fast. It was really scary,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything move that fast.”

[nggallery id=18]More photos from around the Outer Banks.

Ben Walton contributed to this report.

Previous story: Soundside flood described as worst in decades »

Check back with The Outer Banks Voice for continuous updates.

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