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Coastal Cleanup Continues, Southern Beaches Ready for Labor Day Visitors

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KILL DEVIL HILLS — Tropical Storm Dennis is still anchored off the Outer Banks and continues to lash out across the North Carolina coastline. The damage could be devastating environmentally; the pounding of the surf is causing major beach erosion.

Highway 12is the only road connecting people living on Hatteras Island and Ocracoke to the rest of the world. Pounding waves from Dennis heavily damaged the highway, burying four areas under tons of sand.

Just north of Buxton, almost half a mile of the highway was washed away as waves swept from the ocean into the sound.

Department of Transportationcrews are working around-the-clock to clear debris and move sand back to the beach. A portion of the highway, from the Oregon Inlet south of Nags Head to Avon, is expected to reopen Friday morning.

Dare County officials will allow residents of the towns of Waves, Salvo, Rodanthe and Avon to return to their homes using a four-wheel drive vehicle and a re-entry sticker. They will be allowed onto the island between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Friday.

Beachfront business owners along the Outer Banks are busy removing sand and debris from their properties in hopes of reopening for the Labor Day weekend. Inmate crews are also part of the effort to ready the beachfront for weekend visitors.

In places like Buxton, Hatteras Island and Ocracoke, it will be long after Labor Day weekend before tourists can return.

For information on Dare County beaches, call1-800-446-6262.

All beaches south of Ocracoke Island to the South Carolina border are open. That includes hot spots like Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle, Topsail Island, Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach.

While there is no guarantee for good weather this weekend on the southern coast, merchants there are hoping people here will make the trip in spite of Dennis.

Newspapers are filled with ads encouraging people to stick with their plans. From the Crystal Coast to the Cape Fear region, the tourism industry is working hard to make Labor Day weekend a success.

Vacationers in New Hanover County alone typically spend up to $4 million on the last big weekend of the summer.

As bad as New Hanover County business owners feel for the Outer Banks, they say they hope vacationers do not mistake their beaches for those up north.

"We're not having anywhere near the problems they're having in Nags Head, unfortunately for them, so this is the time to come down and enjoy the beach without having to worry about Dennis," says Elizabeth Hickmon with the Wrightsville Beach Chamber of Commerce.

For updates on beach openings and reservation information, call1-800-VISIT-NC. andBrian BowmanandJohn Cox

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Terry Cantrell, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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