The Alphabet Recovery Question on the Outer Banks

By on April 8, 2020

By Clark Twiddy

While our nation continues to chart a course through the coronavirus pandemic, we here on the Outer Banks are wrestling daily with the tensions between the priorities of health care and the profound economic impacts of a virtual evaporation of commerce.  Many questions remain unanswered on the health care front and an equal number of business questions remain around both the duration and severity of the economic rebound along our shores once the travel confidence of our vacationing public returns.

The hardest business questions remain centered on the comeback–what kind of pent-up tourism demand can we expect in terms of our core economic driver that provides the tax base for our quality of life?

Some optimists suggest something of a V-shape recovery–a short health-crisis interruption and then a quick return to economic vibrancy.

Others suggest more moderately a U-shape recovery–one that returns our visitors more gradually to a normal tourism economy over a period of months and years.

Still others, more pessimistically, offer an L-shaped event in which there is no foreseeable return to economic success at previous levels for a variety of reasons.

The V-shape is, of course, the best of the bad options while the L-shape is the worst option of all the bad economic options.  All of this narrows into the palpable challenge of being forced to scale down without any real plan for scaling back up.

No matter the temperament, one thing is certain:  Federal support will have to be both massive in its scale and molecular in its impact in order for our community organizations to survive in their current footprint.  No organization will be immune from the contagion; our small businesses, our non-profits, our schools, our churches, and our government will all be faced with drastically reduced economic energy.  Without the federal government, an L-shaped event is almost a certainty–speed based on education will be the most critical factor here in practically applying the headlines around federal relief packages.

As a region, we’ll have to be deliberate in threading the needle between closing our bridges and yet not burning them–the long-term disastrous economic impacts of an L-shape impact on our lives and livelihoods is something that we can all agree upon.

Planning ahead to the days of a flattened curve–and what to expect from our visitors–will hopefully offer us a guide for many of our hard decisions in the coming days.  While the return, regardless of shape, will be just as imperfect as the decline, we are charged to fully understand the long-term impacts of our short-term planning efforts in the face of this health care crisis.

Clark Twiddy is president of Twiddy & Company, located here on the Outer Banks.



  • Midgett

    The bridge has been burned down by closing it to property owners. You may see a lot of folks dump property, especially 2nd homes they couldn’t access. Think about the reaction if the border to Virginia was closed. Closing the bridge was really dumb. People could leave and come back. Where were they going? Places that people from there couldn’t follow back. Very bad financial and public relations move. Any human could have brought the virus to the beach, permanent resident or not. COVID 19 doesn’t check ID’s.

    Wednesday, Apr 8 @ 4:22 pm
  • Steve

    People dumping property would be a good thing. This place is way overpopulated and is being destroyed by non residents.

    Thursday, Apr 9 @ 6:02 am
  • OBX Disappointed

    The non residents power your economy. Without them your economy is effectively closed. A Captain Qiunt said in Jaws, “you got to ante up, if you play it cheap you’ll be on welfare all winter,” Good luck with that…

    Thursday, Apr 9 @ 9:47 am
  • YouSaidIt

    While I understand non-residents’ unhappiness, many probably were unaware of Dare County’s lack of an adequate ICU facility in the OBX Hospital. Ten or 20 cases of COVID19 could certainly overwhelm our OBX healthcare system. I certainly don’t check the infrastructure of a place I plan to vacation.
    I am quite sure non-residents would never want to visit OBX, come down with a bad case of COVID19 and have to be airlifted to another state for treatment.
    We are truly all in this together. It has been very uncomfortable to read the vitriol back and forth between local residents and non residents. Let’s hope that particular sickness passes soon as well.

    Thursday, Apr 9 @ 11:00 am
  • Matt

    If one owner ‘dumps’ their property it just means the new buyer will take their place and profit next year when things are back to normal.

    Thursday, Apr 9 @ 12:47 pm
  • NRPO Corolla

    Keeping the non-residents off the Outer Banks will not keep the virus from coming. The OBX region is a couple of weeks behind the Baltimore-Washington region which is a couple of weeks behind New York. Unfortunately you can already see the increases in infected people in the community and now nursing homes.

    Friday, Apr 10 @ 7:57 am
  • John holland

    Why are locals concerned about overwhelming the outer banks hospital. They cannot handle even normal visits in the ER during the summer and besides the Residents will all just come to virginia and use OUR facilities .Of course you could go to Elizabeth city if you do not value your health. As a non resident homeowner I hope they just stay home we don’t want you either.

    Tuesday, Apr 14 @ 9:27 am