After being deployed for several days to assist coastal communities with Hurricane Dorian, most of McDowell’s Incident Management Team (IMT) have returned home to the mountains.
But, one member was reassigned to assist with the devastation at the island of Ocracoke.
The team was deployed to Bladen County days before Hurricane Dorian hit the NC coast to aid in planning, operations, logistics and situational awareness. The IMT includes many high ranking emergency services personnel from McDowell including William Kehler, Craig Walker, Steve Hancock, Angie Wright and Sam Robinson.
Kehler is still deployed and was reassigned to Hyde County Emergency Operations (EOC) Center to serve as a public information officer. He said most of the damage is on Ocracoke, and he is assisting in their Emergency Operations Center on the mainland.
“Ferries are operating, however, they are only transporting emergency personnel and essential supplies to support life safety and humanitarian missions,” Kehler told The McDowell News on Saturday. Sunday morning, Kehler sent pictures of equipment and commodities leaving the ferry terminal at Swan Quarter inbound for Ocracoke.
In a press release from Hyde County officials, they thanked everyone for the overwhelming response to the recovery efforts on Ocracoke, and stated they were not in need of any food or supply donations at this time. Donations are recommended to be made to the Outer Banks Community Foundation by visiting www.obcf.org/donate-now/disaster-relief-fund-donate/. To learn more, visit www.hydecountync.gov.
Hyde County also announced Monday that state and local officials had compiled and submitted all of the information to federal authorities to be declared a disaster:
“While it is not yet promised, the sheer level of destruction documented on Ocracoke leads county officials to believe that we will be declared a disaster. We also expect a disaster recovery center with FEMA and other resources to be setup within a week.”
On Monday, permanent residents were allowed to come back to the island to start mitigating damages, according to a news release from Hyde County:
“Be aware that we have limited resources on the island, and your home may not be habitable. We still do not have power and are under a boil water advisory. We do not have any shelters on the island for displaced residents to use. Make sure you bring anything you may need for your day-to-day life when you come back.”
Cellular and public safety radio communications are restored and work on power restoration is still underway. About 7,000 homes and businesses remain without power, mostly in Hyde, Beaufort, Dare and Tyrrell counties.
About 100 National Guard soldiers remain on Ocracoke supporting recovery operations, along with a medical team and emergency managers. The North Carolina Baptists on Mission are setting up a mobile kitchen on Hatteras Island at the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry Terminal. That kitchen will support feeding Ocracoke, with Wildlife Officers transporting prepared food to the island for distribution by the Salvation Army, which has two canteens working on the island.
The N.C. Department of Insurance is coordinating the arrival of insurance adjusters to help homeowners and businesses, and will also assist with a plan for collecting and disposing of the many flooded vehicles on the island.
On Saturday, Gov. Roy Cooper visited coastal counties to view the storm damage as state and local emergency officials assess preliminary damage from Hurricane Dorian.
“People on the ground who felt the effects of Dorian are our focus today,” said Gov. Cooper. “Getting food, water and medical help to the people in need is the first priority. Utilities are working hard to restore power and we want life to return to normal as soon as possible in eastern North Carolina.”
Only four deaths in the U.S. have been reported from the storm in North Carolina and Florida. These deaths were reported as accidents during hurricane preparation. Approximately 200 people remain in shelters though the numbers are dropping. About 57,000 were without electricity mid-day, mostly in the eastern part of the state hit hardest by the storm.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation reports that NC Highway 12 south of the Basnight Bridge to Mirlo is closed except for emergency and relief vehicles. Another 39 routes were closed or partially closed due to water or trees blocking the road.
On Ocracoke, search and rescue teams were going house-to-house checking on people who may be injured or in need of assistance following the storm surge flooding that occurred Friday afternoon. Emergency officials have transported fuel trucks, generators, and food and water to Ocracoke. A shelter is open in Washington County to accommodate people from Ocracoke who need temporary housing.
The NC Ferry Division is working to reestablish routes to Ocracoke to transport food, water and other supplies. The U.S. Coast Guard flew seven air rescue missions to transport people with medical conditions on Ocracoke to safety. As of Saturday morning, first responders evacuated 32 people from the Outer Banks by ground.
The latest storm information may be found on the state’s Hurricane Dorian website (https://www.ncdps.gov/dorian2019), on Twitter @NCEmergency and Facebook. VisitDriveNC.gov for traffic conditions statewide. Real-time traffic, weather and preparedness information is also available via the ReadyNC mobile app, available free for iPhones and Android devices.
If you wish to donate your time or financial assistance to recovery efforts, please go to NC.Gov/donate.