“When you enter the village from the Hatteras ferry, keep going till you get to Old Beach Road and take a right. From there…”
This typical advice to a first-time visitor sounds perfectly normal. The only problem is that visitor will have trouble finding Old Beach Road. There is no street sign at this juncture nor at many others throughout the village. Additionally, the one-way directional sign at Martha Jane Lane and Lighthouse Road is lying on the ground. Hurricane Arthur was responsible for several downed signs, but not all. The sign to enter Widgeon Woods from Loop Road, for example, has been missing for several years, as have several others.
Each hurricane or northeaster (including Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Super Storm Sandy in 2012) takes its toll on street signs, some of which have been twisted out of shape for a long time.
Perhaps surprising to some, street signs were first installed only back in 2005. Prior to that, one had to be creative in describing how to get to a particular house, and that art, unfortunately, has returned. Although many islanders wanted brown or more historic-looking road signs, the N.C. Department of Transportation gave the county a “green sign with white lettering only, take-it-or-leave-it” proposition.
The lack of street signs is far more than an inconvenience: for fire and safety reasons, people need to easily identify their location in an emergency. If just for this reason alone we feel this situation needs to be corrected immediately.
We can be proud of the fact that Ocracoke has no traffic lights, but street signs are a must.