Hatteras Island closed to visitors without ferry reservation

Posted September 16, 2011

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— 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.

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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.

Tourism Board: Hatteras Island not ready for visitors Tourism Board: Hatteras Island not ready for visitors

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.


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  • drnc Sep 16, 2011

    No one is getting "free" FEMA money to repair a vacation home.

  • beachlvr0804 Sep 16, 2011

    This is a surprise?

  • mikeyj Sep 16, 2011

    OK! May I please? What was that woman's name? I hear it mentioned often. I heard her voice on Radio, and read, here on WRAL & I believe Witn. Let me paraphrase y'all help me here, hear. She said to the effect that the "outter banks and Hiway 12" would be ready for the Laborday weekend. I know I hear the name very often here in NC. I know/hear tell she a powerful woman. Gosh; her name just won't pop into my mind, OR maybe it chooses not to be recognized. I dunno! I think from TV she has blondish hair and she's from up Raleigh way. I live near the coast. Camp Le Jeune pronounced La Zhern. lol Let me see. This may help y'all help me remember. I also hear tell she is in some kinda office in Raleigh, Kinda like big ears in the "oval office". OH WELL! I give up. Quit! Done! Finado! Maybe you guys up there know who she is. Her name will pop into my head when I least expect it. Just wish to God I could remember. Any y'all have moments like this? Frustrating ain't it?

  • jbyrd Sep 16, 2011

    Let's get this straight. The folks who built those mansions out there are getting money from the government (our tax dollars)to repair or rebuild those homes, they get to keep the rental fees, and our tax dollars are being used to infill natural inlets (which is what naturally maintains the Outer Banks) to provide access to those homes built on sand bars so the same thing can happen again. When are tax payers going to demand that this rip off be stopped?

  • btneast Sep 16, 2011

    None of this would be an issue had the state of emergency not been lifted this early. If you book a week at a beach in Hurricane season and don't have trip insurance, you are stupid. All of the rental contracts state very clearly the policy on bad weather up front.

  • eccgc Sep 16, 2011

    It is WRONG for property owners to charge people who can't even get to their properties. This is wrong!

  • dae66 Sep 16, 2011

    2thec: "If the owners of these houses don't understand this would be good business, they don't understand these renters will more likely never rent from them again nor will they return to Hatteras; I know I wouldn't."

    I understand your thinking, but their policy is clear and if you didn't understand or read the policy when you rented the house then you wouldn't have a reason to be upset!

  • dae66 Sep 16, 2011

    Below is Hatteras Realty's policy in the event of a hurricane. It's a shame that some have lost their monies, but their policies are CLEAR. Also, if you're going this time of year, the insurance would be a very good idea! We go every year in mid September and have been evacuated once in 20+ years. When we saw Irene heading that way, we called and cancelled this year. Sad but necessary this time!

    "We can no longer offer refunds in the event of a hurricane evacuation. Fortunately, trip insurance is an affordable, viable alternative. Please select the vacation insurance option detailed on your lease (see “Vacation Interruption Insurance”) and protect your vacation investment."

  • LovemyPirates Sep 16, 2011

    Mr. Stewart Couch of Hatteras Realty and other realty management companies could refund these people's money. If the owners of these houses don't understand this would be good business, they don't understand these renters will more likely never rent from them again nor will they return to Hatteras; I know I wouldn't.

  • BigUNCFan Sep 16, 2011

    They might get the renters over a barrel and get their money this year but you know what they say about repuatations, built in years and destroyed in a day. I have a feeling some of these renters will have LONNNNG memories and active facebook and twitter account to vent and complain to their friends.