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Hyde Health reports fewer COVID-19 cases

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Sept. 21, 2020. From Hyde County Health Department

Hyde County Health Department today reported that active COVID-19 cases have “dropped significantly” with new cases trending downward over the last week.

These active cases have dropped significantly because many of the COVID-19 patients recovered at the same time, said Health Director Luana Gibbs.  

As of today (Sept. 21), Gibbs reported a total case count of 126. 

Of this total, one is an active case, 120 have recovered and five are deaths, she said. There have been two more deaths since the last update, totaling five, but no information on those was given.

New cases over the past week have trended downward as well. 

“These are all good things,” she said. “However, we must not let our guard down.  Please continue to wear facial coverings, socially distance by at least six feet and wash your hands.  Avoid large crowds as well.  Thank you to those who are complying.  Your efforts are not in vain.”

She stressed that the Health Department tests anyone who suspects they are sick with COVID-19 or has been in contact with someone who has the virus.  They also test those who request testing even without symptoms.

“There are no out-of-pocket fees to individuals, but we do ask if you have insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, you bring your card with you for testing,” she said. 

Appointments are required; they do not see walk-in clients.

Related to COVID-19 testing, there will be a drive-through testing event in Fairfield at the Fairfield United Methodist Church on Tuesday, Sept. 29, starting at 4 p.m. and lasting until the last appointment is seen. 

Appointments are required and can be obtained by calling 252-926-4397 or 252-926-4382.  Again, there is no out-of-pocket expense to the person being tested, but those who have insurance should bring those cards and a photo ID.  

Hyde County Health Department remains available to the public to answer questions and provide education, and can be reached at 252-926-4399 Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. 

For 24/7 on-call services, dial the Coronavirus Hotline at1-866-462-3821.

Get your information from reliable sources, such as: 

N.C. 12 to remain closed on Hatteras, Ocracoke until at least Tuesday

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The tide is high on Ocracoke while Hurricane Teddy passes by. Photo: C. Leinbach

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From our news services

Tides, winds and waves cause dune loss and ocean overwash in several locations

RODANTHE – A “triple whammy” of weather conditions has caused severe dune loss and ocean overwash in several locations along N.C. Highway 12, causing the N.C. Department of Transportation to close the road in two locations until at least Tuesday afternoon.

The National Weather Service out of Morehead City reported Tuesday afternoon that the Coastal Flood Warning for the Northern Outer Banks and Hatteras Island has been extended into Tuesday afternoon to account for the next two high tide cycles. Water levels will peak during high tide, which is around 11:30 p.m. tonight and around noon Tuesday.

The combination of seasonal high tides, strong northeast winds, and long-form waves created by Hurricane Teddy has caused ocean conditions that have broken through protective dunes and deposited large amounts of sand and salt water on the road. In some spots, the sand on the highway is four-to-six feet deep. However, no structural damage to the road has been observed.

Overwash on NC12. Photo by NCDOT

N.C. 12 is currently closed in two locations:

  • Between the Marc Basnight Bridge and Rodanthe on Hatteras Island
  • Between the National Park Service Pony Pens and the ferry terminal on Ocracoke Island

NCDOT crews have been working since Saturday to clear the road of sand and water while rebuilding dune lines when conditions permit, but high tide cycles have slowed or even reversed their progress. NCDOT has approximately two dozen people, along with a contingent of front-end loaders, excavators and graders working to reopen the road.

Weather conditions are forecast to ease on the Outer Banks tomorrow, and crews are hoping to reopen the highway in both locations sometime Tuesday afternoon.
For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on social media.

Visitors look at the roaring ocean on Ocracoke. Photo: C. Leinbach

Travel on NC 12 remains difficult

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Work crews clearing sand and water on Hatteras Island, Sunday Sept. 20. Photo courtesy of NC DOT

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This news story was updated 5:25 p.m., Sept. 20

NC 12 was closed around noon today on Ocracoke Island between the Pony Pens and the ferry terminal due to a dune breach and ocean overwash.

It was reopened around 3 p.m. to traffic. Sand and water remain on the roadway, so all motorists should drive with extreme caution.

Ferry service between Hatteras and Ocracoke began later in the afternoon.

Due to severe overwash, NC 12 remains closed on Hatteras between Rodanthe and the Basnight Bridge.

The National Weather Service out of Morehead City provided an update late Sunday afternoon:

Oceanside impacts north of Cape Hatteras, and soundside impacts along the Neuse River, Pamlico and Pungo Rivers, Crystal Coast areas, and the southern Pamlico Sound including Ocracoke Island and the Core Banks are expected to continue through Monday. 

Water levels will be peaking during the high tide cycle late Monday morning to early afternoon. Winds begin to subside late Monday, along with the most significant coastal flooding impacts. Rip current risk will remain elevated through the beginning to middle of next week.

Cape Hatters Seashore staff reported that beach conditions are worse today than yesterday. Beach-goers should be aware of life-threatening conditions on and just off area beaches, and people should use extreme caution along the shoreline. Ocean overwash is occurring in multiple locations along Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. Most, if not all, off-road vehicle routes will be inaccessible and should be avoided.

Travelers should note that NC 12 could continue to be impacted over the next several days due to the massive swells produced by Hurricane Teddy well out to sea.

On Hatteras Island, the following areas are prone to ocean overwash:

  • South of the Basnight Bridge to the Pea Island Visitor Center
  • Mirlo Beach area, on the northern edge of the tri-villages
  • South of the Avon Pier along Ocean View Drive
  • At the north end of Buxton
  • Between Frisco and Hatteras Village
  • Along Pole Rd., south of Ramp 55 in Hatteras village
  • Along the north end of Ocracoke island
NC 12 overwashed on Ocracoke. Photo courtesy of NCDOT

Ocracoke Library to hold voter registration drive

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A voter registration drive will take place on the Variety Store porch. Photo: P. Vankevich

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The Ocracoke Community Library will hold three voter registration days on Ocracoke on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The registration drive will be held on the Variety Store porch from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 23), from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 24) and from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday (Sept. 25).

Available will be voter registration forms, sample ballots and voter information about absentee ballots and early one-stop voting.

“We’ll have laptops so we can help register voters online and check on voter status in case people aren’t sure if they are registered,” said Sundae Horn, library manager, in an email. “We’ll also have some information about regional and state races. It will be non-partisan.”

There will be a raffle to win a gift certificate for the Variety Store, thanks to the Ocracoke Friends of the Library. Anyone who registers to vote can enter to win.

While National Voter Registration Day is Tuesday (Sept. 22), and though the library is a partner in this initiative, Horn will not be on the island that day. So, Ocracoke’s days were changed. Karen Lovejoy is helping to organize the event.

As of Sept. 17, North Carolina has 7,138,866 registered voters. A total of 889,273 absentee ballots have been requested. On the same date in 2016, the total was 65,956

Also available will be Ocracoke Library card information since September is National Library Card Sign-Up month.

Impressions on the passing of a season

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The Lydick family in this December 2019 selfie are, from left, Michael, Evan, Caleb, mom Karen and Abbey.

By Michael Lydick

In my house in East Bend, there’s a weathered basket on the small table by the front door filled with key chains. As we leave for Ocracoke, a thought pops up from the confines of my future mind and sees an emptier basket. Our increasingly older son’s and daughter’s keys in baskets somewhere else not here.  I close the door and lock it, the house and basket emptier as we leave for Swan Quarter.

Our oldest son is apprenticing with a contractor. His beard filled in thick with red Irish hair. His once pudgy frame filled out with muscles and sinew. On the backseat of his truck, a tool belt and a 12-pack of Cheerwine soda. We assure him that the Variety Store has his favorite beverage, but he wants to be sure.

On the Swan Quarter ferry crossing the Pamlico Sound to Ocracoke, my daughter sits in her car with her mother. They’re watching a Netflix series on their phones; between them, my battery-powered, lime-green Ryobi fan.  COVID-19 keeps us all in our hot cars and we drew short straws as our cars sit up front in the full sun. I watch them watching their series and my heart hurts and simultaneously smiles.  My wife is drinking in the time with her before she leaves for college in a month.

I pull my mask down and walk past the closely packed cars to mine. As I squeeze past golf cart trailers and cooler-laden Laredos, I see our youngest son inside, his bare feet and long legs on the sun-faded dash; earphones in; sunglass-covered eyes directed outwards as the ferry crawls across the sparkling surface of the Pamlico Sound.

This ferry is a time machine. I feel time slowing around me. We are here, and almost there; all together as healing salt air pours over us.

Days later, we are settled into Havana Cabana. It’s my daughter’s 18th birthday and I have been sent to acquire her favorite meal at Eduardo’s.  As I stand in line, waiting for her burrito, I feel an angst, as many tourists aren’t wearing masks. My wife reports that the Slushy Stand was being “flamed” online for requiring customers wear them. It’s one example of the tension here as I return home.

Days later, I am on a secret shoal with my sons. We are dragging clam rakes across the dark sand anticipating the metallic “screeeeeeech” when contact is made.
“CLAAAAMMMM!” announces my oldest.
“CLAAAAAAAAMMM!” my youngest reciprocates.
It’s tradition to announce each acquisition as you place your quarry in your mesh bag. Overhead, two F-22 fighter jets streak northward towards Virginia. We all stop and look up into the blue.

Days later, we are all on the beach.  We are in tears–good laughing-hard tears; our-sides-hurt-from-laughing-so-hard tears.

My youngest son was stung by a jellyfish. His leg is splotchy– tentacle rose red–and we have no vinegar.  I have a full bladder, though, and ask my son how badly he wants to feel better. My oldest jokingly asks if “Cheerwine will do anything?”
I disappear behind my Xterra and return with a small towel and half-filled yellow water bottle. With ice, and a first-aid kit, I do what must be done by dads and wonder if this memory will survive me through the racket of our cacophonous laughter.

We are all here together in this place without time, colleges, beards and key baskets and endless ocean.

I never want to leave here; I never want to leave. Now.

Michael Lydick and his family live in East Bend, Yadkin County, near Winston-Salem.

Bigfoot Slough dredging tentatively scheduled for next week, temporary one-boat schedule to begin Friday

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An Army Corps of Engineers survey boat takes a turn in Ocracoke’s Silver Lake Harbor on Thursday. The Corps has plans to dredge Big Foot Slough in the Pamlico Sound starting the week of Sept. 21. Photo by Marie Connor

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is tentatively scheduled to begin a dredging effort in the Bigfoot Slough area of Pamlico Sound next week, after inclement weather caused by the remnants of Hurricane Sally clears the region.

During that time, the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division Pamlico Sound ferries will adopt temporary one-boat schedule due to due to a mechanical issue and shoaling concerns until dredging completed.

The dredging effort is expected to last about one week, depending on weather and marine conditions.

Once the dredging effort is complete, the Ferry Division will be able to resume its full schedule between Cedar Island, Swan Quarter and Ocracoke.

Beginning Friday, Sept. 18, the temporary schedule will be as follows:

  • Cedar Island to Ocracoke: 10:30 a.m.
  • Ocracoke to Cedar Island:  7:30 a.m.
  • Swan Quarter to Ocracoke:  4:30 p.m.
  • Ocracoke to Swan Quarter:  1:30 p.m.

Reservation holders whose trips are affected by the change will be notified by email or phone.

Island to see impacts from Sally – updated

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This news report has been updated, Thurs. 8 a.m.

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Although Hurricane Paulette is out of the picture, eastern North Carolina will experience some impacts from the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Sally beginning Thursday and indirectly extending into next week, the National Weather Service out of Morehead City/Newport said Wednesday in a press release.

The storm made landfall in Alabama early Wednesday as a Category 2 hurricane unleashing up to 30 inches of rain, 100 mph wind gusts and a six-foot storm surge. It caused catastrophic and life-threatening flooding in parts of Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.

By 5 p.m., Sally had weakened to a tropical storm with 60 mph winds, but the flooding threat continued as heavy rain expanded into Georgia and was expected to reach the Carolinas on Thursday.

In addition to the minor coastal flooding impacts that have been forecast the last several days, the NWS is forecasting:

Heavy rain with possible flash flooding Thursday and Friday.

– A slight chance of severe weather, with the main threats being a few damaging wind gusts and isolated tornadoes, especially late tomorrow into Friday.

– Prolonged strong northeasterly winds behind the remnants of Sally, leading to possible coastal flooding, large waves, dangerous rip currents and potentially significant beach erosion and ocean over wash.

Following on Sally’s heels are Teddy and Vicky and an unnamed storm behind those two.

NPS campground on Ocracoke to stay open all winter

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The NPS Campground on Ocracoke NC will stay open all year, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore said today in a press release.
Aerial view of the NPS campground on Ocracoke. Photo courtesy of NPS.

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The NPS Campground on Ocracoke will stay open all year, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore said today in a press release.

The campground usually closes after Thanksgiving weekend, but this year the campground will stay open the entire year.

“We are extending the camping season at the Ocracoke campground through the winter to provide more opportunities for camping at the Seashore,” said David Hallac, Superintendent, National Parks of Eastern North Carolina. “We will evaluate its use this winter and determine if year-round camping on Ocracoke will be continued in the future. Last year, we decided to keep the Oregon Inlet Campground open all winter and it was well-used. Extended camping seasons align with our plans to modernize campgrounds and broaden the opportunities for the public to have high-quality camping experiences.”
All 136 sites will be open for use. Reservations and payments for camp sites at Ocracoke, Oregon Inlet, Cape Point, and Frisco campgrounds can only be made online at www.recreation.gov or by calling a Recreation.gov representative at 877-444-6777. Making site-specific camping reservations prior to arrival is strongly encouraged.
In addition to Ocracoke Island, the Oregon Inlet Campground on Bodie Island will also remain open through the winter.
To learn more about camping at the seashore, visit: https://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm

Coastal flood advisory issued for NC coast tonight

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The ocean was almost at the dunes near the Lifeguard Beach, Ocracoke, two hours before high tide on Sept. 13, 2020. Photo: C. Leinbach
The ocean was almost at the dunes near the Lifeguard Beach, Ocracoke, two hours before high tide on Sept. 13, 2020. Photo: C. Leinbach

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The National Weather Service out of Morehead City/Newport today issued a coastal flood advisory for the entire North Carolina coastline for this evening (Sept. 15). 

Swell from distant hurricane Paulette continues but will gradually diminish today, the NWS said in a press release. 

At the same time, the area will transition to a period of higher astronomical tide (king tides) for the remainder of the week.  This will cause higher water levels and at high tide, there may be some minor issues with water.

These higher water levels may continue through the weekend due to a combination of factors, the NWS said. Visit https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=mhx for the latest water level forecasts.  

Ocean overwash, particularly at high tide, may occur at the north end of Ocracoke Island.

Although the forecast today is fair weather, a high risk for rip currents also will continue today with very rough surf at all Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches. Dangerous beachfront conditions and inaccessible off-road vehicle routes may occur, particularly at high tide, on all beachfront areas and off-road vehicle routes.

As for the timing and track of Hurricane Sally there is still lots of uncertainty.

We may see some impacts from the remnants of Sally including localized heavy rain and the possibility of stronger storms late week. This is all dependent on the track and timing.  Both are too uncertain right now to give specifics for our area. 

Following on the heels of Sally are three other disturbances in the Atlantic Ocean the NWS is tracking.

A coastal flood advisory has been issued for the Outer Banks (Ocracoke Island northward)

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Erosion at the Hatteras Inlet ferry terminal. Photo: P.. Vankevich

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1. A Coastal Flood Advisory has been issued for the Outer Banks (Ocracoke Island northward). 

Increasing swell from Paulette starting at the high tide cycle tonight and again Tuesday morning will likely cause ocean over wash on Highway 12 in vulnerable locations. The highest impacts from are east facing beaches, I.E Hatteras Island from around Rodanthe south to the north side of Buxton.  Elsewhere in the advisory area minor over wash is possible.  See the hand drawn graphics for specifics. 
2. High risk for rip currents will continue Tuesday, with very rough surf.  With a forecast of nice weather Tuesday and possibly an increase in beach visitorsPlease continue helping us message this threat to those visiting the beaches this week.

3. A higher than normal astronomical tide may again produce elevated water levels Wednesday and Thursday. 

Visit https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=mhx for the latest water level forecasts.