Ocracoke spared major damage from Hurricane Florence

By on September 14, 2018

By Peter Vankevich and Connie Leinbach

Lighthouse Road in Ocracoke on Friday morning. Around 200 residents stayed on the island during the storm. (Chad Macek)

While catastrophic damage has occurred in much of eastern North Carolina and more to come inland with heavy rain and river flooding from Hurricane Florence, Ocracoke had a surprisingly quiet night and the worst may be over.

Chad Macek, proprietor of Oscar’s House Bed and Breakfast, reported a downed tree in his back yard. At 7:30 a.m. this morning, he estimated winds at 30 mph and no rain and electric power that went down during the night was restored around 9 a.m.

Heden said that although Ocracoke may be spared from a storm surge as the winds have shifted, he cautioned that islanders should not let their guard down as a tornado watch is in effect.

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The weather forecast for Ocracoke for the next 48 hours calls for rain and wind, and wind gusts up to 45 mph. High tides in the next few days will be crucial. High tide today is at 11:40 a.m.

Mainland Hyde County and other counties in the region remain under major flooding threats, especially in areas near rivers.

Kris Cahoon Noble, Hyde County manager, reported this morning from the Emergency Operations Center in the Hyde County Sheriff’s Office that Swan Quarter is not flooded but is without electricity.

“The dike system did what is was designed to do,” she said. “We’re high and dry.”

“We were really blessed,” she said,” But Belhaven and Washington have flooding. The water is up to the stop signs in Belhaven,” she said.

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As for Ocracoke, she said there has been significant dune loss.

“We will assess it at low tide,” she said, which is around 6 p.m. today.

Engelhard and Sladesville areas are seeing flooding comparable to that of Hurricane Irene in 2011, said Donnie Shumate, Hyde County public information officer.

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A section of U.S. 264 in the southwestern part of the county has been shutdown by flooding.

Noble, along with Shumate and several other county officials, has been camping out in the EOC for the last few days. The Red Cross brought lots of food before yesterday when conditions were still good, she said.

Tideland EMC, reported that as of 5 a.m., 77 percent of their service area is without power.

Forecasts suggest winds may not sufficiently subside to resume work until Saturday morning with the exception of the northernmost areas north of the Pamlico River.

The hardest hit areas of Tideland territory are likely facing power restoration efforts lasting more than a week. Residents should take that into account if they evacuated the area before deciding to return home. Once damage assessments can safely be conducted Tideland will have a much better idea of what lies ahead to fully restore power.

Downed power lines should be considered energized. Even if utility power is off, privately owned generators can re-energize power lines if they backfeed due to lack of a properly installed transfer switch.

Tideland members should report new power outages by calling 1-800-882-1001. The public may track power restoration progress via the cooperative’s website, www.tidelandemc.com, which includes a link to Tideland’s outage map and social media accounts.

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