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By Mike Lydick
I’m a member of an Ocracoke Non-Resident Property Owner (NRPO) Facebook page that was created just after Dorian to help organize information and connect owners to each other as we migrated back to the island and homes we loved with our mops, fans and tools.
The discussions were civil until the arrival of what I call “the second flood,” COVID-19. Only this time, the re-entry tag hanging from my mirror is useless.
Most of the NRPO’s understood why. But a select few began behaving like the kids with golden tickets in the Willie Wonka movie. Entitled. Selfish. Angry.
I tried explaining to them some things that I thought were obvious to everyone.
Our second homes sit a few feet above the ocean. If I need to dig a post hole, it requires a shovel and a snorkel.
I reminded them that residents’ homes were generational. That the majority of these sat a few feet above the exposed earth when the sewage-laden water levels rose. That the majority of our homes sat 10 to 15 feet above the tumultuous tide.
Remembered that we came back in cars, from a second home that was OK. Drove back to those OK homes in our OK cars. Reminded them that locals lost their homes and their cars (and their bikes).
I recalled how Teresa Adams helped NRPO’s get re-entry passes; connecting anyone who needed help to help. She didn’t treat any of us any differently in her office up above the piles of buckets and canned food.
But you understood, though, driving in your “go” car that you brought from your OK house that it was different for the people you passed on the way out from the firehouse.
It was different for Sandy of Cool Creek Electric. He didn’t have customers. He had friends and neighbors with no power. Many like us with pulled meters in those early days. If your eyes were open, you saw that Sandy (who is also an EMT) was mad tired. Still is.
Same for Chuck or Cathy from Chuck’s ACR. If you ask Chuck how many AC units he’s replaced, he’ll tell you he’s not sure within a plus-or-minus 20 guess. As of this article, they’ve still got 40 to 60 units to go. Cathy would like to go on vacation when it’s all over, but definitely doesn’t want a cruise. They’re tired like Sandy is tired. Like everyone is tired. NR’s and PO’s both helped equally, in due time.
I explained to these very loud posters that there were about 20 beds in the Outer Banks Hospital. No ICU to speak of. That there were quite a few Ocracoke residents in the 65-plus age at risk age group. People were scared, and rightly so.
These people would like for us to stay home.
These people, who want our houses fixed, open and filled with happy money-spending renters more than we do. They are more scared than we are about the empty ferries and businesses.
Let’s not go there until we’re told we can, I said.
That if they thought the way to get what they wanted was to be vocal about their non-resident rights–to stand out like some human flare of entitled self-righteousness–then they didn’t understand something obvious.
That this place we’ve staked our markers in–it’s the home of people born of pilots and privateers and fisherman. Descendants of the Life Saving Service and pirates and quiet people who’ve rarely if ever gotten help from the mainland. Their homes are built from broken ships. They have pizers and go on scuds. They would like us to stay home for now.
I explained that maybe these loud Facebook posters should be quiet. Follow our lead. Pay down their principal. Learn what we can and listen when we can. Slow down our expectations and increase our participation. Ease into a community that no longer exists in most parts of the world. And someday, hopefully, earn a seat at the table when our hair is grayer, and we drop our respective NR’s.
New Ocracoke property owner and Ocracoke Observer contributor, Michael Lydick and his family, live mostly in Winston-Salem.