Hurricanes

As Outer Banks open for business, Tropical Storm Arthur threatens

Posted May 17, 2020 7:00 p.m. EDT
Updated May 17, 2020 10:17 p.m. EDT

— Governor Roy Cooper is urging people along the North Carolina coast to pay close attention to Tropical Storm Arthur while waves of cooped-up tourists from inland locales have at last stuck their feet in Outer Banks sand.

"We just came down for a quick getaway," said Melissa Spence, who came with her family from Raleigh for two nights at the Surf Side Hotel. "(We) had a little cabin fever. We had to get some salt air. It soothes the soul."

When Spence heard Dare and Currituck counties would re-open to visitors on May 16t, she set her eyes on salt-and-sand therapy. "It's our happy place. With all that's been going on, it's nice to be out here looking at that," she said.

The Outer Banks closed to visitors in mid-March because of cornoavirus concerns.

The Surf Side Hotel, like most hotels, shut down for two months. Owner Ken Simpler was eagerly awaiting this weekend -- only for a tropical storm to cast a cloud over the re-opening. "We usually get one shutdown a year from a hurricane, and we got Arthur coming tomorrow. It's really quite a whammy," he said.

Simpler has limited staff and only expects a quarter occupancy this week.

Just up the road at the Blue Moon Beach Grill, it has been busy.

"Obviously, we're not doing the numbers we're used to for May, but we're staying alive," said manager Kelly Powell, who added that locals have kept her afloat these last two months.

With tourists back, Powell has been flooded with take-out orders.

Now Arthur threatens another kind of shelter in place.

"It's unfortunate because what are they gonna do? They're not gonna be able to go to the beach. I'm not sure they'll be able to go shopping," Powell said.

For Lonny Squire of Richmond, spending a week here with her sister, she's rolling with the flow. "We'll be inside. We have movies and brought books. We won't venture out, which is why we're here today," she said.

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