sheriff military vehicle
Captain Jason Daniels of the Hyde County Sheriff Department transports Mickey Baker and Carmie Prete on an Ocracats mission in a special military truck on the island Tuesday to help with rescues as needed. Deputy Blackburn Warner rides along. Photo by C. Leinbach

By Connie Leinbach

Captain Jason Daniels of the Hyde County Sheriff’s Department had a mission Tuesday morning as he and Deputy Blackburn Warner drove their “hurricane truck” from Jackson Circle to downtown.

“We were on an Ocracats mission,” he said.

Mickey Baker and Carmie Prete, who own Mermaid’s Folly in the village, had not been able to get out of their flooded Jackson Circle home for more than two days with the arrival of Hurricane Joaquin.

“We tried to walk down Jackson Circle at low tide yesterday, but the water was rushing,” Mickey said, noting that their house at the edge of the marsh is almost in the Sound. “You can slip easily in the water and drown. You can’t drown in snow.”

But on Tuesday, they got a call from Baker seeking help to feed hers and Prete’s cats at their shop.

Carmie Prete and Mickey Baker with Jason Daniels on their way back from feeding their cats that had been without food for 2 1/5 days. Photo by C. Leinbach
Carmie Prete and Mickey Baker with Jason Daniels on their way back from feeding their cats that had been without food for 2 1/5 days. Photo by C. Leinbach

Daniels and Warner picked them up in the five-ton, military cargo truck Daniels had brought over on Thursday from the mainland, which moved through the watery streets at about 5 mph.

Later in the day, Daniels transported Sharon Miller to the Ocracoke Convenience Site so that she could feed a feral cat colony there. This is one of several colonies of feral cats on the island. Most all of the cats are fixed, but islanders continue to feed and watch over them.

Baker and Prete take care of a colony of about 14 in the Jackson Circle area. They are members of Ocracats, Inc., a nonprofit group dedicated to overseeing the feral cat population on the island. The group recently had a three-day spay-neuter clinic in the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department building at which more than 40 cats were spayed or neutered and released back to where they had been trapped.

“We gotta take care of the cats,” Daniels said about the trips he made on Tuesday.  He also helped the mail service by assisting Melissa Sharber, postal worker, with a lift through the flooded Highway 12 to the post office, but stressed that the vehicle was not a general taxi service.

Daniels explained that this truck was brought in as an addition to the EMS vehicles on the island.

“If we get an EMS call, we can get to that person and bring them back to the rescue squad,” Daniels said.

The Hyde County commissioners declared a mandatory evacuation due to Hurricane Joaquin on Thursday, and typically in a mandatory evacuation, all EMS personnel must leave the island on the last ferry.  After that, islanders who choose to stay during a hurricane are on their own.

However, the evacuation was lifted on Saturday, well before Joaquin arrived.

So there were EMS personnel on the island as the rain came and flood waters rose on Sunday.

Waters are much receded today (Wednesday), and at 2:30 p.m. it was announced by the NC Ferry Division  that today there would  be a 4:00 p.m. Ocracoke to Cedar Island run.

At  5:00 p.m. a ferry will run from Swan Quarter to Ocracoke for residents, property owners, vendors, emergency personnel and utility workers only.

Feeding Ocracats
One of many colonies of feral cats on Ocracoke. This colony is tended to by Mickey Baker and Carmie Prete. Ocracats helps feed and control these cats. Photo by Mickey Baker.
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  1. Thank you Captain Daniels and Deputy Warner! Ocracats works diligently to feed, care for, and protect the island’s feline residents, and it is wonderful to see you giving much needed assistance.Much appreciated!!

  2. That Army 5-ton was probably acquired by the County at a depot or in an auction when the Army was upgrading to the next model, and this model was decommissioned. It looks like someone wacked the left rear taillight! I used to be an Army Maintenance Section Sergeant, so I notice details like that! LOL!

    FYI: This vehicle is technically referred to as an M-934 Truck, Van, Expansible: 5-ton, 6×6, XLWB (Extra-Long Wheel Base). It may be an M-934A1 or M-934A2 variant. Here is a YouTube video of one just like this that was sold in 2013 in California by Government Liquidation: Here is another YouTube video of one that was up for sale earlier this year: These videos give you a view inside the van body. They usually carried communication and/or electronic repair shop equipment. They are set up for connections to external power and phone lines if necessary, and have heater and A/C equipment. They are capable of fording 30″-78″ of water depending on whether the “fording kit” is installed, and maintenance precautions are taken. They can be set up as command and control centers, or loaded with supplies and equipment for the civilian emergency crews to live in, and operate from.

    If this event required the vehicle to travel for any length of time through water over 30″ deep their maintenance personnel will need to refer to TM 9-2320-272-10, pp. 2-218 to 2-222, para. 2-40, “Deepwater Fording Kit” (Not “Deepwater Theater”!!!):

    “General. Salt water causes damage to vehicle components. For this reason, do not drive needlessly in or through salt water. Vehicle components that are exposed to salt water must be washed with fresh water as soon as possible. The vehicle will ford water up to 30 in. (76 cm) in depth without a fording kit and 78 in. (198 cm) with kit installed.” (pg. 2-218)

    “Note: Vehicles completing a deepwater fording operation must be serviced by
    unit maintenance as soon as possible. Refer to LO 9-2320-272-12.” (pg. 2-222)

    Repacking the wheel bearings would be a first priority, along with inspecting other components (engine, transmission, transfer case, fuel tank, differentials, etc.) for water contamination.

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