Hurricane Florence

A Down East thank-you to Ocracoke

Ocracokers line up for barbecue, compliments of Cedar Island, on the Native Seafood parking lot.

To catch up on Ocracoke news and much more, click here 

Text and photos by Peter Vankevich 

As Hurricane Florence headed to Eastern North Carolina last September, residents from Dare County all the way down to South Carolina had their personal Category 4 level of anxiety. Although Ocracoke and points further north were largely spared, it was not the case for those to the south and communities on the mainland that dealt with major flooding from rivers.

Jessica Emory

Massive devastation hit the coastal counties south of Hyde County, including Carteret, which includes Cedar Island, all the way down to Brunswick.   

Soon after Florence moved on, several Ocracoke Islanders launched their own relief effort, sending personal boats full of donated goods–water, gasoline, bleach, trays of bread, tarps, pet food and other necessities to Cedar Island which was cutoff by the hurricane.

To show their appreciation, the Cedar Island community thanked Ocracoke for its help with a free pig pickin’ barbecue with two roast pigs on Feb. 9 at the Native Seafood parking lot.

Isaiah Smith, a commercial fisherman, was one of the Cedar Islanders who showed up.

“We wanted to show our appreciation for the residents of Ocracoke that provided disaster relief assistance they provided after Hurricane Florence,” he said.

Commercial fisherman Vince Emory and his wife Jessica, along with Geraldine Gaskill, also showed up.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to share camaraderie for our friends of Ocracoke,” he said. “It was one of the few storms that affected Cedar Island and not Ocracoke.”

The loss of electricity for three weeks was particularly painful.

“We really appreciated getting ice,” Emory said.

Jessica is the principal of Beaufort Middle School.

“We wanted to thank the Ocracoke family for helping us out,” she said about the gift of the community barbecue. “It was a huge gift for us, and we were without power for three weeks. We greatly appreciated it. There is something about commercial fishermen that help each other. We wanted to say thank you from one island to another across the sound.”

Even now, she said, the island is still hurting and about one-third of her students are still displaced as contractors work to repair houses.

Isaiah Smith, right, a commercial fisherman from Cedar Island, was among several ‘Down Easters” who thanked Ocracoke with a free barbecue for its help after Hurricane Florence. Albert O’Neal, Ocracoke  oyster harvester, fisherman and Volunteer Fire Department chief, is at left.