Over the last several years, we’ve written editorials about what it’s like on Ocracoke in the quiet season.
One of them was “The winter of our… well, normalcy” (2019)—which was a season of few disruptive storms and the ferries, for the most part, ran on time.
Ferry service is the lifeline for Ocracoke. When the boats don’t run, hospital and dental appointments are canceled, visitors can’t make it and a host of other inconveniences arise.
Some would argue that internet access is the second lifeline these days. This is especially true during a pandemic and many in quarantine. People can have their medical appointments online, work from home, take classes online and participate in meetings via videoconferencing apps such as Zoom and Skype. Apart from some glitches causing temporary loss of this access as well as complaints about slowness, internet has worked reasonably well.
As devastating 2019 was to the island, the year of 2020 will also long be remembered.
Still reeling from the historic Hurricane Dorian flooding last September, Ocracoke School was recently razed and will be replaced. Throughout the village, many houses have been raised a minimum of nine feet. Other houses have been demolished leaving vacant lots.
Just when the island was rebounding, a once-in-100 years pandemic of the novel coronavirus struck, first in China and spread rapidly throughout the world.
We are in a crazy world where too many people are in denial how serious this pandemic is. We are months away from a nation-wide distribution of vaccinations that, hopefully, will work.
As November comes to a conclusion, as was predicted by experts last spring and denied by many politicians, the virus has spiraled out of control in North Carolina, the United States and the world. Experts predict it will be even worse beginning two weeks from Thanksgiving when millions of people traveled to see their loved ones, congregated in large numbers and ignored the safety precautions that can significantly lessen the spread.
As of Nov. 28, at least 357,958 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 5,219 have died. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services yesterday reported 3,444 new coronavirus cases in one day.
In the United States, more than 13 million individuals have been infected and more than 265,000 have died. The mortality rate is expected to increase significantly in the next few months. In the meantime, the spread will worsen and more and more people will sicken and die. Many more of the heroic health care workers will lose their lives while doing their jobs caring for the ill.
Vice President Pence said last spring the pandemic would largely be over by Memorial Day; President Trump said it would be the day after the election. Both are dead wrong.
Despite the best efforts by teachers and education officials, who nationwide have implemented virtual learning and modified in-class teaching, there are no easy solutions and students are suffering, both academically and psychologically.
If there were some bright spots this year, here is one: What was unexpected to islanders amid the pandemic is the great interest of folks wanting to visit Ocracoke. From the island temporarily shut down in the spring to keep the virus from spreading in the community to having one of the best seasons ever was stunning, with many remarking they had never seen so many October visitors.
Yet, the immediate future is bleak, and Ocracoke, which has been largely spared, will most likely get more cases as with almost everywhere else in the country.
Now that the most rancorous General Election in modern history is all but over, we hope that discord will not worsen and that we the people can put away our anger and fear of other viewpoints and work together to solve our mounting problems.
Will this be a winter of discontent? There’s always the chance of a big nor’easter or two that will damage the roads in the vulnerable areas beyond the Pony Pen. Seasonal depression is serious in any given year and many people will be even more affected by it because they will not be able to be with the ones they love.
But here’s a way out of any discontent. Spend some time daily reflecting as to how you as an individual can make the world a better place and act on it. Reach out to those who are alone.
Oh, and by the way, don’t believe everything you read on Facebook and Twitter. There are plenty of people and entities out there that want to push your buttons. Their motto? We’re not happy until we make you unhappy.