As of 6 p.m. today, the National Weather Service out of Newport/Morehead City reports that the intensity of the Tropical Storm Isaias heading to Florida has increased, but confidence still remains LOW regarding storm track and intensity forecasts for eastern North Carolina.
“Please understand that the forecast may adjust both in terms of track and intensity,” the NWS said. “We are confident that we will see impacts as early as Friday afternoon with rip currents.”
In anticipation of this storm, Ocracoke County Commissioner Tom Pahl issued the following statement.
“Hyde County made the decision early on to work with the Ocracoke Interfaith Relief & Recovery Team (OIRRT) to provide temporary housing for those who were displaced by Hurricane Dorian (last Sept. 6). We were able to do that primarily by getting folks into unoccupied rental housing immediately after the storm, thanks to the good graces of those homeowners and the realty companies.
At the time, we knew that, starting in the spring when those rental houses were scheduled to go
back on the market, Ocracoke would be faced with a sudden need for additional housing options.
“The only real choice that was available and affordable at that time was the purchase of surplus FEMA trailers, which we were able to fund through a grant from the State Department of Emergency Management. We got an additional grant to fund the placement of the trailers and to pay for the hook ups to utilities, etc.
“Something like 25 families or individuals were able to find temporary housing through that program, who otherwise would have had to move off the island or move into a house already occupied by family or friends. One of the conditions of the funding, which was communicated to Hyde County with clarity, was that we would be expected to protect these trailers from damage and that we would vacate them in the case of another storm event.
“This is reflected in the written agreement the trailer residents have with Hyde County, which states that they could be asked at any time to vacate their trailer if a need should arise. This housing was never meant to be permanent, but as an interim solution, on the way to safer, permanent housing.
“OIRRT is working with those residents on finding long-term options while they stay in their trailers. No one thinks life in a trailer is optimal, but for those who had no other options, it certainly has been a help and that was what these trailers were always meant to be.
“As this first storm is coming toward us, we are faced with the very difficult decision to ask those residents to prepare to vacate and for the county to move the trailers to an off-island site. As difficult and costly as that decision is, it must be driven by a focus on the safety of the residents and the protection of the trailers. That decision is being made in stages.
“The first stage is to inform the residents that a weather event is threatening.
“The second stage is to inform the residents that they should pack up and secure their belongings in the trailer to prepare to vacate.
“And the third stage is to disconnect and move the trailers to the mainland and provide substitute housing to the residents.
“We are currently at stage two, with stage three imminent, assuming there is no significant change in the forecast for this storm. Substitute housing will be provided, as needed, until the trailers are moved back into place and hooked up again.
“We certainly regret the disruption this will cause for the folks who are already struggling with recovery from Hurricane Dorian, but to be clear, we are also grateful to OIRRT and those who have worked so hard and in many cases have so graciously volunteered their time and money to provide for these temporary housing needs. And we will continue to do so as our community pushes forward with the recovery from Hurricane Dorian.”