Hatteras Island closed to visitors without ferry reservation
Posted September 16, 2011
Hatteras, N.C. — Dare County officials issued an order late Friday prohibiting visitors without ferry reservations to Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras Village, from entering Hatteras Island.
Officials cited the changing weather conditions, which suspended emergency ferry service between Stumpy Point and Rodanthe.
The move came a day after officials reopened the island to visitors, even though N.C. Highway 12, the only road to the island, remains closed. It has been closed for three weeks since Hurricane Irene hit the North Carolina coast.
The decision to reopen left many who rent houses on the island without much of a recourse.
“They can’t get here, and they won’t be able to get a refund,” said Stewart Couch of Hatteras Realty.
Couch was among a group of real estate agents who requested that county commissioners reconsider reopening the island.
“You cannot get here by ferry. The ferry is booked up for the next five days, and they’re only able to bring in a fraction of the people,” Couch said.
The Dare County Tourism Board also asked the board to reconsider, saying the island wasn't ready for visitors yet. The tourism board cited the ferry system, which can't handle the number of cars and tourists wanting to get back on the island, and the electric company, which put out a notice that its temporary power lines might not hold up to the wind and waves expected this weekend.
The Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce also joined the cause against reopening.
Couch said the decision to let in tourists was ridiculous.
“It’s not working. We have limited power (and) limited resources, and it’s not time for people to be here,” he said.
Benjamin Carone, who rented a house called “Something Fishy,” said it took him 18 hours to get to the island.
Carone’s vacation insurance wouldn't cover the rental cost, even if he couldn't get to the island, because the county had lifted its state of emergency.
“The insurance company said, ‘If you can get to the island, we're not going to cover your claim, even if all the ferries are booked,’” Carone said.
Officials said that they hope blocking people without ferry reservations from accessing the island will allow them to claim some of their vacation insurance.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation recommends that anyone planning a visit to the Outer Banks make a ferry reservation.
Some businesses on the island are happy to see even just a few tourists.
“We lost a couple of weeks of summer, so it would be good to get them back here,” restaurant manager Frank Miller said.
NCDOT crews are continuing to work on Highway 12. The department said the roadway could be fully reopened sometime in early October depending on weather conditions.