Ferry News

Early Swan Quarter ferry to resume Monday; more updates from Hyde County

The early morning run to Swan Quarter is scheduled to resume Monday. Photo: C. Leinbach

By Connie Leinbach

The 7 a.m. ferry from Ocracoke to Swan Quarter is expected to resume Monday, Hyde County Manager Kris Noble announced at the Monday Board of Commissioners meeting.

When Hurricane Dorian flooded the island on Sept. 6, the ferry office and dormitories for the crews, both at the southern end of the village, were flooded. Not having the dormitories where ferry crew can sleep and then work on the early morning long-route ferries, prevented the early morning run to Swan Quarter.

The 7 a.m. Cedar Island ferry has been running because that crew has been housed in a few travel trailers parked at the office.

“We only have enough (overnight) housing for one crew,” Tim Hass, Ferry Division spokesman said in an interview today, adding that a new ferry schedule for these long routes will begin Monday.  He said he expects another boat to be available by the end of next week.

The county recently began looking for temporary housing for the ferry workers needed for the early morning Swan Quarter run.

“So that islanders can get to jury duty next week,” Noble said at the meeting.

Noble also said she’s been working on preparing a request for proposals for a new trash contractor. That RFP was to be released on Tuesday, with sealed bids due Feb. 24.

“We hopefully will bring these to you at the March meeting,” she said.

She explained that the trash removal may be separated into different contracts—for the mainland and the island.

She also mentioned that the trams were destroyed in the hurricane and that Bill Rich, the special projects manager, applied for a grant from Golden Leaf to replace them.

Today, Noble said that Golden Leaf informed her today that they have approved $625,000 for Hyde County–$500,000 to build a new EMS station across from the Island Inn and $125,000 for new trams.

Noble today said that the trams this year will be three 15-passenger vehicles and one 11-passenger ADA vehicle.

She said the Ferry Division told her they will again lease a passenger ferry for the upcoming season, beginning service on May 21.

Hyde County is expected to receive a $500,000 grant from the state office of Recovery and Resiliency to hire two positions, she said.

One will be a recovery specialist and the other will be a grant specialist to work with the 207 applications the county has received for housing mitigation (repair or raising).

Ocracoke’s county commissioner, Tom Pahl, reported that Darlene Styron resigned from the Ocracoke Waterways Commission. He recommended that islander Morty Gaskill fill her unexpired term. He also recommended that Finley Austin be reappointed to the Ocracoke Board of Adjustment. The commissioners approved these appointments.

He also noted that the first five travel trailers for temporary housing are due on the island by the end of the week. The Ocracoke Planning Board will meet next week to work on some amendments to the Ocracoke Development Ordinance to enable the temporary trailers to be placed around the island.

The first of the travel trailers purchased by Hyde County for temporary use by displaced islanders from Hurricane Dorian arrives on Ocracoke on Thursday. Photo: C. Leinbach

Pahl said he will be the keynote speaker at the annual meeting Feb. 20 of the Outer Banks Community Foundation at Jeannette’s Pier.

“I feel honored to be able to thank the foundation for all of their unending support,” he said. “They’ve been helpful to us in so many ways.”

The United Methodist Disaster Relief Team continues to find new ways to help Ocracoke, said Justin Gibbs, Hyde County Emergency Services director, and want to hire two positions to help Ocracoke: an operations manager, who will set up the travel trailers, and a property manager, who will have direct contact with the occupants.

Funding for these positions and two positions for the Ocracoke Interfaith Relief & Recovery Team, an administrator and a casework manager, will be paid out of the $600,000 grant from the state Office of Management and Budget for Ocracoke’s disaster recovery.

Noble said the 35 trailers cost a little under $200,000 and with the four positions, for about $200,000, there will be about $200,000 left out of the $600,000.

She said the state was willing to revisit this grant down the road and possibly appropriate more money.

In addition, Gibbs said Outer Banks Community Foundation has agreed to earmark $200,000 from the $1.4 million donated for Ocracoke for travel trailer expenses.

“The kind of support we’ve gotten from the state has been absolutely fantastic,” Pahl said, noting that one of the reasons FEMA didn’t approve of individual assistance was because the state has the resources to help Ocracoke. “I don’t think we would have gotten this kind of support from FEMA.”

The commissioners recognized the United Methodists Committee on Relief (UMCOR), whose Disaster Response Team will be on Ocracoke for about two years to help with recovery and rebuilding.

“I really appreciate their commitment to Hyde County,” Gibbs said. He said that the conference has been challenged because of a nationwide deficit of volunteers.

“In North Carolina, there have been seven declared disasters in 12 years,” he said.

Tommy Gilbert, director of field operations, told the commissioners that UMCOR’s work is a joint operation between many faith-based groups