Tourists returning to northern Outer Banks

Posted September 1, 2011 3:44 p.m. EDT
Updated September 1, 2011 10:15 p.m. EDT

— It takes some effort to get to the northern reaches of the Outer Banks in Currituck County, but visitors who are returning to the area after Hurricane Irene said Thursday that the trip is worth the effort.

"We came here expecting to see a lot more devastation," said Borna Emami of Atlanta

County crews have removed much of the storm debris that has washed up on local beaches, but officials have issued a red-flag warning to prohibit swimming because of safety concerns.

"It hasn't affected us too much. We are still out here having fun. (There's) just some debris here and there," said Mike Rumohr of Fairfax, Va.

"We still have sand. We still have the water. It's really just inconsequential," Emami said of not swimming.

Visitors also can see the wild horses that roam the isolated dunes.

"That's pretty cool seeing them walk on the beach," Rumohr said.

The wild horses came through Irene fine, said advocate Karen McAlpin, who is walking the beaches to educate people about them.

"People mistakenly think that they are tame, and they are not," said McAlpin, director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

She said she's happy to see visitors back in Corolla but doesn't want folks to be surprised if they see storm cleanup in progress.

"Anyone that comes anywhere on the Outer Banks right now is not going to find the Outer Banks like it was last week," she said.

A large portion of the Outer Banks – all of Hatteras and Ocracoke islands – are closed to visitors because of storm damage.