Ro­tar­ian Mark Matthews with Ro­tary Disas­ter Aid USA, shown here at the Village Craftsmen, trav­eled from San Diego to vol­un­teer for a cou­ple of weeks with Ocracoke re­cov­ery ef­forts. Photo courtesy of Mark Matthews

Special to the Ocracoke Observer

By Miles Layton

The road to Ocracoke opened Dec. 6.

Let that sink in for a minute.

After three months, the island is somewhat more accessible than it has been since Hurricane Dorian invaded Sept. 6.

Ocracoke is special, one of those places we go to get away from it all.

The island may take years to recover. Homes are ruined. Hundreds of vehicles were flooded out, destroyed.  The school building got smacked, too. Depending on the weather and conditions of the roads, traveling to the island has been hit or miss for folks who want to help. Even if you got there, hotels on the island were heavily damaged.

But signs of bouncing back are everywhere.

Rotary’s District Governor Tracey Ivey visited the island since Dorian to do her tour of duty “mucking and gutting” for public service.

“When I arrived, they were in the process of mucking and gutting about the floors of homes and businesses or whatever,” Ivey said during a recent visit to the Hertford and Edenton’s Rotary clubs. Dorian brought an unprecedented 7.4 feet of storm surge, flooding almost everything on the island.

“I was in the Methodist Church that was flooded,” Ivey said. “We had to use a jackhammer. My son actually helped me to lift those blocks up because it had to be removed.”

After that, the remainder was treated with mold remediation and prevention.

To get to the island is an adventure in its own right–three ferry access points. Material storage also is difficult.

Ivey said islanders are “very, very appreciative that people haven’t forgotten them particularly after FEMA denied them Individual Disaster Assistance.”

Rotary International has donated $25,000 to aid with disaster relief.

“We’re going to use those funds to repair their food pantry and more,” Ivey said.

Rotary volunteers are setting their sights on the island in the weeks and months ahead.

“Right now, we’re getting our work teams together and hopefully within the next two to three weeks will be sending people over,” Ivey said.

Anyone seeking to volunteer should reach out to their local Rotary club.

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