Nags Head, N.C. — The beating from Hurricane Sandy's wind and waves tore up many beaches along North Carolina's coast last weekend, but Nags Head is reaping the dividend of building up its beaches long before Sandy hit.
Officials spent more than $30 million last year to renourish about 10 miles of beach in Nags Head, and residents say the hotly debated project can now be viewed only as a wise investment.
"It was a good move," said Charlotte Zorc, who has lived on the Outer Banks almost 30 years. "It just proves what happened with Hurricane Sandy that our beaches are looking great and a lot of houses that may have gone in the ocean are saved."
Zorc said she's relieved her granddaughters can play on the beach in Nags Head days after Sandy passed without having to worry about storm debris. Other Nags Head homeowners share her support of the five-month beach renourishment, which used tons of sand to create a buffer several feet high between the ocean and the town.
"From walking a mile to the pier, everything looks really good," Bonnie Snyder said. "In the past, (storms would) take stairways and beach. So, I think it was a positive."
Town Manager Cliff Ogburn said the project is already repaying Nags Head, which doesn't have to spending money on storm recovery.
"No water lines were damaged. No streets were damaged," Ogburn said. "We were extremely thrilled with the project and how it stood up to the winds of Sandy."
Children's museum gets new home
The Outer Banks Children@Play Museum in nearby Kitty Hawk didn't fare as well after Sandy sent several feet of water rushing through it and several other businesses along U.S. Highway 158 Bypass.
Director Alyssa Hannon said Wednesday that she was devastated when she saw the damage to all of the fledgling museum's exhibits, but she expressed confidence that the community wouldn't let the museum fold and would help it rebuild.
Hannon's confidence was rewarded Friday when local businessman Harvey Hess Jr. offered her a lighthouse-shaped building next to his Capt'n Franks hot dog restaurant for the museum.
"If you have an opportunity and the space to help somebody, do it because it's going to come back to you at some point," Hess said.
Hannon, a Chapel Hill native, said she was "doing the happy dance" when she heard of the donated space, which was among a number of donations she's received in recent days.
"We're at least doubling our space. It's what we wanted to do, and it's amazing it's worked out for us," she said.
She and her family loaded up items Friday that she salvaged from the flooded museum to move to the new location, which she hopes to open in January.
"Maybe we're seeing a silver lining from the storm," she said.
Sandy recovery notes
Gov. Beverly Perdue activated the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund to allow state residents to help with recovery efforts along the coast and in the Northeast.
“Hurricane Sandy has affected North Carolinians and millions of Americans,” Perdue said in a statement. “We are currently assisting those in need here in North Carolina, and will continue providing assistance to our neighboring states along the east coast.”
The American Red Cross reported that North Carolina businesses and residents have already given or pledged $1.3 million toward relief efforts.
State Department of Transportation crews continue to clear sand off N.C. Highway 12 on Hatteras Island and pump floodwater from the northern portion of Dare County.
Crews are repairing damaged pavement on N.C. 12 and plan to hire contractors to make some repairs to Bonner Bridge before reopening it to traffic.
Officials reopened Hatteras Island to visitors on Friday, but the only access is via an emergency ferry running between Stumpy Point and Rodanthe.
Ben Huss, the owner of Serendipity, said the house made famous by the movie "Nights in Rodanthe," fared well in Sandy. One shutter was blown off, and there is some minor water damage from the blowing winds, he said.