Relief, supplies pour into southern Outer Banks

Posted August 31, 2011 8:12 p.m. EDT
Updated September 1, 2011 8:23 a.m. EDT

— North Carolina is shuttling critical supplies to the hurricane-battered southern Outer Banks on an emergency ferry from Stumpy Point, a small town in mainland Dare County.

The shuttles are running to Hatteras Island, which is closed to everyone but emergency personnel and power crews because of a breach in N.C. Highway 12. State emergency management officials said they don't know how many people are stranded on Hatteras Island but believe about 2,500 stayed to ride out Irene.

Hatteras won't be open until at least after Labor Day weekend, officials said.

On Wednesday, crews delivered food and diesel fuel to power generators to the hard-hit towns of Rodanthe and Hatteras Village. The United States Postal Service and United Parcel Service brought emergency medical supplies. 

"We're essentially their link to the mainland, their lifeline to the outside world," said ferry superintendent Jed Dixon.

Though access to Hatteras Island is closed, residents are permitted to leave. Officials have not offered a timeframe for when the island might reopen.

Despite being unsure when he will return, Buxton resident and professional surfer Brett Barley left Hatteras Island Wednesday.

"I was very torn about leaving. I didn't want to, but I kind of needed to, and I'm just going to hope I can get back as soon as I can," he said.

His wife stayed behind to help with the relief efforts in Rodanthe.

"Most people, their houses got flooded. The water was up to 7 to 10 feet in some spots, and everyone is ripping up carpet," Barley said. "Most people just lost all their furniture."

Barley said people on Hatteras Island are really struggling in Irene's aftermath.

"Driving through Rodanthe today was pretty disheartening, and it's pretty bad," he said. "They need as much help as they can get."

In Stumpy Point, Brenda and Johnny Shaver were assessing the flood damage at the 100-year-old dream home they've lived in for 10 years. They fear it might be a total loss.

"It became really close to our heart – not just a house, but a home," said Brenda Shaver. "So, it's hard."

Nearly every home in the small village sustained damage, Johnny Shaver said. But neighbors are helping each other, while relief agencies begin to reach the most remote areas of Dare County.

"You almost get to the point where you just want to give up, but you just keep on going," Johnny Shaver said. "That's what everybody does."

The Shavers found hope from fellow Stumpy Point resident Shelia Golden.

Golden’s home wasn’t damaged, so she opened it up to residents who were displaced. She now calls it the "Hilton of Stumpy Point."

“If somebody is in trouble, we are always there to help them out,” Golden said.

Golden also has one of the only working phones in the town, so she is fielding calls and hand delivering each message.

It's because of people like Golden that Debbie Talbert says she won't move.

“These people are the salt of the earth. You will find no better. This is a small, little village that’s got an awful lot of heart to it,” Talbert said.