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By Peter Vankevich
With no fanfare, NC General Assembly House Speaker Tim Moore visited Ocracoke on Wednesday.
When asked how he was doing, after having lunch at Howard’s Pub, he replied, “I’m on Ocracoke, it couldn’t be any better.”
Coming down Hatteras Island, Moore (R-Cleveland) boarded the Ocracoke Express passenger ferry along with Jed Dixon, deputy director of the NC Ferry Division, National Parks of Eastern North Carolina Superintendent David Hallac and Ed Goodwin. Goodwin (R-Edenton), now a House of Representatives member representing District 1, served as director of the NC Ferry Division from 2014 to 2017 and was an early supporter of the passenger ferry service that began in 2019.
Before beginning the interview, Moore was wearing a mask and once reaching an acceptable social distance asked if it was okay if he removed it. The purpose of the visit, he began was two-fold: to see how the community and its businesses were doing since Hurricane Dorian struck last Sept. 6 and with the current pandemic crisis, and to see first-hand the dredging needed due to shoaling that is causing ferry service disruptions.
“I certainly think this dredging needs to happen to make sure we keep the channels open so the ferries can get through without grounding and we can keep supplies and people coming on and off the island,” he said.
Moore singled out Bobby Hanig, (R-Powells Point), House District 6 representative that includes Ocracoke, and Goodwin for their support for the passenger ferry service. “At their request, I found the funding to support this year’s operation,” Moore said.
The visit included a stop at the island’s historic lighthouse now administered by the National Park Service.
“Cape Hatteras National Seashore appreciates Speaker Moore’s visit to Ocracoke Island and Cape Hatteras National Seashore,” said Superintendent Hallac in an email today. “It was a pleasure to discuss our strong partnerships with North Carolina Department of Transportation and Hyde County, and the challenges and opportunities related to managing public lands on a remote barrier island.”
As part of a village tour, shuttled in a golf cart, the group stopped at the Ocracoke United Methodist Church that was badly damaged by Dorian and is being repaired and raised on School House Road. They also viewed the progress of a house being raised on Lawton Lane.
Last September, Moore, along with Gov. Roy Cooper and other state officials, visited Ocracoke for a first-hand look at the village destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian.
“We know Ocracoke has had a lot of challenges and we want to come here to let folks know (that) even though this is a far-flung part of North Carolina, it’s not at all forgotten,” he said.
In a follow up by email Friday, Moore added, “Now, more than ever, I understand the crucial role the NC Ferry Division plays in the lives of our coastal residents. I am confident we will continue our vital investments to support the ferry division and address critical shoaling issues. This is a must for the local tourism industry and for law enforcement and emergency management.
“We’re going to make sure, as long as I’m Speaker, I promise you we will continue doing all we can to make sure that we take care Ocracoke.”