Northern reaches of Outer Banks gradually reopen

Posted August 29, 2011 6:51 p.m. EDT
Updated August 30, 2011 5:55 a.m. EDT

— The northern reaches of N.C. Highway 12 in Dare County remained closed Monday as authorities try to repair damage to the road from Hurricane Irene.

The rocks that littered N.C. 12 in Duck after Irene's surge have been cleared from the highway, allowing residents back into the area Monday. Visitors will be allowed to return on Tuesday.

Many businesses there have to repair damage before reopening, however.

Town officials said they might have to close the Waterfront Shops center on Currituck Sound after water from Irene knocked out plumbing lines, ventilation duct work and electrical wiring underneath the shopping center and its boardwalk.

"We've just got to roll with the punches right now," said Dan Lane, who manages a store in the center. "It's for everybody's safety that it's closed."

Dominion Power, which serves northeastern North Carolina, said it expects to restore power to the region by Saturday. Crews from as far away as Indiana are helping linemen for the Virginia-based utility.

Surging water from the sound knocked out about 90 percent of the waterfront deck outside Sunset Grille & Raw Bar, owner John Kotch said. He brought in crews Monday to rip up the remaining floor boards and supports, so the deck can be rebuilt.

The restaurant's parking lot, which was split in two by the storm, also will need extensive repairs, Kotch said.

"We need to get open," he said. "It's not just a matter of the business end. We have 200 employees, and their lives all depend on tourism."

Duck officials said it would be several days before a damage estimate could be tallied. Kotch said his repairs alone will cost well over $100,000.

"(We'll) rebuild and recover," Lane said. "We'll be open for business as soon as we can."

Currituck County officials said they will allow residents and visitors to return to the Corolla and Carova Beach areas on Tuesday. About 30 homes were damaged by sound-side flooding, officials said, advising tourists to check with their rental agencies to ensure specific houses are habitable.

The wild horses that roam the area weren't harmed by Irene, according to Wesley Stallings, herd manager of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.