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NC Assesses Damage After Isaias’ Exit

Hurricane Isaias leaves Oak Island buried in sand as shown in this video by WXChasing published Tuesday.

This post has been updated

President Donald Trump approved Gov. Roy Cooper’s request for a federal emergency declaration for 25 North Carolina counties authorizing federal assistance for storm response, the governor said an update Tuesday on Hurricane Isaias. Cooper declared a state of emergency July 31, which helps state and local officials take extra precautions to protect the public and allows the state to seek federal disaster aid.

“Isaias hit North Carolina head-on,” said Cooper. “Sadly, we have two deaths attributed to the storm and our thoughts are with those impacted by the devastation. As clean up continues, don’t forget the pandemic is still with is. So help your neighbor, but do it safely by wearing your mask, keeping your distance and bringing your hand sanitizer.”

The two reported fatalities in Bertie County were caused by a suspected tornado Monday night that destroyed about 10 homes and sent a dozen to the hospital. There were 20 shelters open Monday night, housing about 40 people. As many as 360,000 homes were without power earlier Tuesday.

Downed trees, downed power lines and road damage remain in many areas and Department of Transportation crews are assessing damage and clearing debris. The department asks residents to be patient while crews make their way through the counties and to be alert for large debris-clearing equipment on the roads.

Hurricane Isaias made direct landfall at Ocean Isle Beach, causing numerous fires, power and sewer outages and structural damages, making it difficult for public officials to maintain public safety or to adequately protect lives, according to the town’s revised state of emergency.

Ocean Isle Beach public beach accesses at Island Park, The Resort, Beaufort, Isle Plaza, Shelby, Highpoint, Lumberton, Durham, Charlotte, Shallotte Boulevard have substantial damage and are closed until repairs can be made. Contractors with decals are allowed on the island starting Wednesday.

Officials in Southport continued on Wednesday to access the damage to the waterfront corridor, which is closed for safety reasons.

State recreational water quality officials advise against swimming in both ocean and sound waters in Brunswick County affected by Hurricane Isaias.

“Severe weather events like hurricanes bring excessive amounts of rain, storm surge and cause extreme flooding. These conditions increase levels of harmful bacteria in our coastal waters that can cause illness,” said Erin Bryan-Millush, manager of the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program, in a statement Tuesday. “The sources of bacteria can vary and include failing septic systems, sewer line breaks, overflowing manholes and wildlife.”

There is no  immediate laboratory confirmation that disease-causing organisms are in the water but storm impacts increase the chance that contamination is present thus increasing the risk of adverse health effects from swimming in these waters.

Residents and visitors should avoid swimming in these waters until bacteriological testing indicates sample results within state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s standards. Testing will begin as soon as conditions are safe to do so and areas are accessible.

Because impacted waters are widespread in Brunswick County, signs will not be posted. The advisory will be lifted as test results become available.

Brunswick County Emergency Services, local government and community partners are working to assess Hurricane Isaias’ impact to residents, infrastructure, facilities and the environment.

Brunswick County government offices resumed normal hours Wednesday. The public shelter at Cedar Grove Middle School closed but the shelter at Town Creek Middle School is on standby to serve those in need of an alternate place to stay due to displacement or safety concerns due to the hurricane. Call 910-253-5383 to coordinate.

Brunswick County officials are assessing debris levels in the unincorporated areas of the county and will communicate any decisions on a disaster debris collection for these areas. Individuals should check with their municipality about debris following Isaias.

North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey is to visit Brunswick County Thursday to assess the damage from Hurricane Isaias and assist storm victims with property claims. Individuals can meet with Causey and Department of Insurance staff at the NCDOI Disaster Response Center from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Lowe’s parking lot, 351 Whitewater Road, Shallotte.

Tuesday waste and recycling pickup customers will see their curbside collection Saturday. The Brunswick County Landfill reopened Wednesday. County residents and property owners can bring yard waste to the Brunswick County Landfill or county convenience centers for associated fees during regular business hours. Yard waste should not be placed in your household trash or recycling bins.

New Hanover County, after assessing damage, plans to collect vegetative debris for residents in the unincorporated area of the county. The county is working with the debris contractor to determine a schedule, but will likely begin next week. There is a ban on open burning in the unincorporated areas of New Hanover County until further notice.

Residents can begin stacking vegetative debris, such as branches and vines, within 5 feet of the curb, away from the street, drainage ditches, and 3 feet away from fire hydrants, street signs, mailboxes and parked cars. Household waste or construction debris will not be picked up, but can be brought to the New Hanover County landfill during regular hours.

Wilmington staff assessed Tuesday morning storm damage and decided to activate the city’s debris removal contract. Trucks will arrive later this week to be weighed and certified over the weekend. Debris removal operations will begin Monday. For removal operations, the city will be divided into six zones, with two trucks deployed in each zone. Trucks may make two passes and additional trucks may be brought in depending on the demand for debris removal. Prior to removal operations, a map and instructions will be published to the city website and social media platforms.

The Coast Guard has given approval for the Hatteras Inlet ferry route to resume service. Hyde County’s reentry restrictions have been lifted for residents, property owners, visitors and vendors. The following is the temporary schedule for Wednesday:

  • From Hatteras: 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 9 p.m. and midnight
  • From Ocracoke: 4:30 a.m., 6:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
The route will return to its full published schedule​ Thursday, with the Ocracoke Express passenger ferry also returning to service that day, pending a channel assessment.
The Aurora-Bayview and Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach ferry routes have also resumed service. Other Ferry routes will reopen after ferry channels are checked for debris and approval is given by the Coast Guard.

Because there was minimal damage in unincorporated Dare County, there will be no storm debris collection in Colington Harbor, Manteo outside town limits, Wanchese, Skyco, East Lake, Stumpy Point, Manns Harbor, Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras. Residents can bring vegetative debris to Buxton Transfer Station, Manteo Recycle Center or Dare County C&D Landfill. Visit darenc.com/publicworks for site hours of operation.

Onslow County residents who experienced damage from hurricane Isaias can report it electronically at www.onslowcountync.gov/cisr.

The city of Jacksonville will collect storm debris as crews are able. There are no plans to use outside contractors.

Few damages have been found at Cape Lookout National Seashore, the National Park Service announced Wednesday.

The Harkers Island Visitor Center will reopen Friday. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The Keeper’s Quarters Museum will reopen Friday. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. The Beaufort Visitor Information Center, the Light Station Visitor Center, and the Lighthouse will remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Passenger ferry service through Island Express Ferry Service to Shackleford Banks, from Beaufort and Harkers Island, will resume Thursday. Call 252-728-7433, or visit www.islandexpressferryservice.com.
North Core, South Core, and Shackleford Banks beaches are open for day-use and camping. The Great Island cabins will reopen on Friday.

The Pender County Emergency Operations Center is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday, according to the county. Pender County will not be picking up debris.

Donations are being accepted for the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund and will address immediate needs such as tarps, food, water and cleaning supplies. The funds will be distributed to nonprofits working in North Carolina communities affected by Isaias.

About the Author

Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.