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Boating accident in Hatteras Inlet kills Virginia woman

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Hatteras Inlet.
Hatteras Inlet. Photo: C. Leinbach

From NC Wildlife Resource Commission

Update: The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission issued a correction. The name of the woman is Brandi A. Lash. The news story has been updated.

A 29-year-old Virginia woman died today after a boating accident in Hatteras Inlet.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission in a press release issued Sept. 6 reported that at around 2 p.m., Hyde County 911 received a report of a serious boating incident in the vicinity of Hatteras Inlet near the Ocracoke ferry dock.

A rented vessel from Hatteras Parasail was traveling southwest across Hatteras Inlet when it ran aground on a sand shoal, the commission said in the release.

Brandi A. Lash of Round Hill, Virginia, was ejected from the vessel and then run over by the same vessel, the commission reported. She has died as a result of her injuries and her next of kin have been notified. N.C. Wildlife is investigating the incident.

Numerous agencies responded to the scene, including the National Park Service, U.S. Coast Guard, Hyde County Sheriff’s office, Hyde County EMS and NC Wildlife officers. 

 

 

Well out to sea Hurricane Larry expected to deliver dangerous rip currents and rough surf this week

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Photo: P. Vankevich

By Peter Vankevich

Although not forecast to strike the United States, Hurricane Larry is expected to cause life-threatening surf conditions and rip currents along the Outer Banks beginning Tuesday.

No rain or high winds will come from the storm, according to the National Weather Service forecast office out of Newport/Morehead City, but the winds may cause minor beach erosion and localized overwash of weak/vulnerable dunes around times of high tide late this week.

As of this morning (Sept. 6), Larry had strengthened to a Category 3 storm and had maximum sustained winds of 120 mph. It was about 1,000 miles southeast of Bermuda and moving northwest at 12 miles per hour.

Larry is the third major hurricane — Category 3 or higher— and 12th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Tropical Storm Julian and Tropical Storm Kate formed and dissipated in the last week.

There are no other threatening storms in the Atlantic for the moment.

Ocracoke events Sept. 6 to 12

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The last day for passenger ferry service from Hatteras to Ocracoke this season is Sept. 6. Photo: C. Leinbach

Tuesday, Sept. 7
Coyote Music Den, 13 Cabana Dr: Coyote Backyard Concert, 8 pm. All concerts are sliding scale “pay what you can” at the gate. No reservations. Walk, Bike, Taxi or Tram. NO ON-SITE PARKING but the venue has a lot nearby.

Wednesday, Sept. 8
Hyde County Board of Commissioners, 6 p.m. in the Hyde County Government Center, Multi-Use Room, Swan Quarter and the Ocracoke Community Center. The public is welcome to attend in person and the meeting will also be live-streamed via the Hyde County Public Information Facebook page.

Coyote Music Den, 13 Cabana Dr.: Coyote + Martin Garrish Backyard Concert, 8 pm. All concerts are sliding scale “pay what you can” at the gate. No reservations. Walk, Bike, Taxi or Tram. NO ON-SITE PARKING but the venue has a lot nearby. Visit www.coyotemusic.net for details.

Thursday, Sept. 9
The Breeze: Gary Dudley and the Maxtones, 9 pm

Friday, Sept. 10
The Breeze: Gary Dudley and the Maxtones, 9 pm

Saturday, Sept. 11
Ocracoke Oyster Company: Brooke & Nick, 6:30 pm 

The Breeze: Sidetrac, 9 pm

National Park Service Ocracoke Island interpretive programs on Ocracoke continue until Oct. 11.

NPS Ranger Programs continue until Oct. 11 outside the Ocracoke Discovery Center. Photo: C. Leinbach

They are held outside the Ocracoke Discovery Center at Pilot Town Road by the south end ferry docks.

Consistent with CDC guidance regarding areas of substantial or high transmission, visitors to Cape Hatteras National Seashore,
regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask inside all park buildings.

The Ocracoke Discovery Center offers trip planning information and a variety of educational exhibits. Visitors can experience
exhibits that include a slideshow of historic photographs, a children’s activity corner, touch-and-feel table and information desk. Open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.

Stories of Ocracoke Island: 11 a.m., Monday to Friday
Learn about the location and legacy of Ocracoke Island. From serving as an early port village and primary point of entry to North Carolina to Blackbeard’s final battle, Ocracoke Island possess a unique heritage from its continued remote setting. Meet outside of Discovery Center at benches. (20-minute talk)

Barrier Islands: 2 p.m., Monday to Friday
Wars, hurricanes, winds, and ocean currents have all had impacts on the shores of Cape Hatteras. Join us to learn about some of these events and the changes they have made to these islands. Meet outside of Discovery Center at benches. (20-minute talk)

Ocracoke Lighthouse:
Rangers will be stationed at the Ocracoke Lighthouse and provide access into the base of the oldest functioning lighthouse in North Carolina. Saturday to Monday 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Not all anniversaries are joyous

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On the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Dorian’s destruction Sept. 6, 2019, Ocracoke is fighting back by rebuilding and raising homes and businesses. Photo: C. Leinbach

We don’t like to continually write doom and gloom editorials, but September this year contains two major anniversaries that may cause angst in many of us.

For Ocracoke, it is the two-year anniversary today of when Hurricane Dorian on Sept. 6, 2019, swept over the island causing the greatest flooding to date.

Many islanders are still processing the trauma of that day and its aftermath of flooded homes and businesses.

Some damage has yet to be repaired, such as the Hammock Hills trail across from the NPS Campground, the N.C. Ferry office and dormitory at the south end of the island and the Jolly Roger, to name a few.

Such work takes time, especially on an island accessible for vehicles only by ferry. Island contractors and others have been working nonstop since Dorian delivered its wrath.

Rebuilding amid the global pandemic of COVID-19 has also hampered efforts due to construction material demand and lockdown restrictions last year.

Numerous homes have been raised thanks to Hyde County having received state assistance for home rebuilding, which has been managed by the Ocracoke Interfaith Relief & Recovery Team (OIRRT).

The OIRRT became a charitable nonprofit last year and continues with the rebuild process as well as positioning itself as the go-to organization should another disaster strike.

The islanders who rebuild and stay are to be commended for their resiliency in a location sometimes described as living on the edge.

Sept. 11, 2001, often referred to as 9/11 — an abbreviation that caught on since it is the national emergency call number — is the other anniversary.

It has been 20 years since this horrific event in which the United States was attacked on its own soil by members of the extremist, pan-Islamic Al Qaida. For those old enough, memories of that event remain and many recall that day this story, which also begins on page one of the September print issue.

Much has been written both about that day and its fallout, especially the subsequent “War on Terror” that was taken to Afghanistan.

The newly published “Crossing the Rift: North Carolina Poets on 9/11 & Its Aftermath” by Press 53 and available on the website press53.com features 116 North Carolina poets reacting to that day and what has transpired since then. The title is of this commemorative anthology is appropriate in that many would argue that the rift — a crack or split in our culture — has grown much wider in these 20 years.

Unfortunately, the world is still reeling from 9/11 and much uncertainty remains regarding the impact of the withdrawal of all American troops from Afghanistan. That story isn’t over.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all just got along, had a little more tolerance without hating or harming each other for the myriad different opinions and beliefs we all have?

Alas, we know that is not human nature, and threatening times can bring out the worst in people. We also can hope that they inspire the best.

N.C. Ferry Division explains canceling numerous Hatteras-Ocracoke vehicle ferry runs

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On the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry. Photo: C. Leinbach

Note: The last day for the passenger ferry between Hatteras and Ocracoke will be Monday (Sept. 6). Vehicle ferries run all year. See schedule here.

The Ocracoke Observer asked the N.C. Ferry Division to respond to questions as to why several runs per day on the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry route have been canceled throughout the summer.

Timothy D. Hass, Ferry Division communications officer, responded with the following information:

Every year, the Ferry Division hires dozens of temporary employees to staff its expanded summer schedules. This year, like many businesses on the Outer Banks and across the country, we are facing a labor shortage.

As noted (in previous press releases), the Ferry Division did not receive the number of qualified applicants needed to fill all the positions required to maintain a full summer schedule across the system.

As soon as the terminal manager knows the schedule that can be run given the number of people on duty, canceled runs are posted on the Hatteras Twitter account. Twitter has historically been where short-term schedule interruptions are posted as it is free and easy for passengers to receive updates.

In addition to social media, we also share long-term schedule changes/route cancellation information through news releases that are posted on our website.

We will return to our regular schedules as soon as we have the staff to run them. The number of vacant positions is always changing, but it’s safe to say that we still need dozens of employees to staff our schedule.

We continue to receive and process applications as soon as they come in. Some of the higher positions are being filled from within, creating openings at lower levels.

As we did earlier this year and in years past, we will hold job fairs next spring and continue advertising temporary and permanent openings to find qualified candidates to work in our Ferry Division.

A parking lot attendant requires only a TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Card) which takes one to two weeks to acquire.

An Ordinary Seaman needs to be licensed as such, which can take up to a month. Positions above that require sea time, the amount of which varies with each position.

Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry runs reduced due to COVID-19 cases among Hatteras Ferry staff

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Runs on the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry route will be reduced starting Sept. 3 until the ferry staff shortage due to COVID-19 is resolved. Photo: C. Leinbach

HATTERAS – Because five employees with the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division assigned to the ferry route between Hatteras and Ocracoke have tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in a temporary staff shortage, service between Hatteras and Ocracoke will be reduced starting Friday, Sept. 3, until the division can safely resume normal schedules.

Round trips will be reduced from 60 to 44 trips between the two islands.

The schedule will be as follows:

  • Hatteras: 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 8 p.m., 9 p.m., 11 p.m. and midnight.
  • Ocracoke: 4:30 a.m., 6:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., noon, 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 9 p.m., 9:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m., and midnight.

Ferry travelers are encouraged to call the Hatteras Terminal at 252-996-6000 before arriving to check on schedules and estimated wait times.

Service from the Currituck-Knotts Island ferry route will be suspended Saturday through Monday, as those staff are supporting the Hatteras-Ocracoke route. 

Employees and passengers are required to wear face coverings when inside vessels and terminal facilities, regardless of vaccination status, according to requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Transportation Security Administration. 

The Hyde County and Carteret County health departments and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services have been notified of the positive tests.

The five employees are recovering at home under isolation for at least 14 days. They last worked on the route Sept. 2.

The vessels and the terminals at Hatteras have been cleaned and sanitized since the positive test results.

Routine COVID cleaning has been ongoing at all ferry division facilities since the beginning of the pandemic last year.

Passengers who think they may have been exposed to the virus should contact their local health department.

Basnight Bridge to undergo half-hour safety scan on Sept. 7

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The Marc Basnight Bridge over the Oregon Inlet, Dare County. Photo: C. Leinbach

NAGS HEAD – The N.C. Department of Transportation will perform a high-resolution scan of the Marc Basnight Bridge in Dare County on Tuesday, Sept. 7, which will require a 30-minute closure of the bridge from 10:30 to 11:00 a.m. 

Flaggers and message boards will be in place on both approaches to the bridge to warn motorists of the closure.

During the scan, a device mounted on a slow-moving vehicle will map the elevation and coordinates for millions of points along the bridge deck.

The sensitivity of the equipment requires it to perform the scan without interference from passing traffic.

The Basnight Bridge, which carries N.C. 12 across the Oregon Inlet on the Outer Banks, was built to last 100 years and is designed to expand and contract with changing weather conditions.

The 3-D scan survey will provide engineers with data they need to ensure the long-term health of the bridge.

For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on social media.

Interruption in water service scheduled for several NPS facilities on Ocracoke

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MANTEO — Water to several Cape Hatteras National Seashore facilities will be interrupted temporarily tomorrow (Sept. 1) due to a water line leak in the northern region of Ocracoke Village which includes areas north of the Pony Island Restaurant.

A night shot of the new restroom area at the Lifeguard Beach. Water will be off from 6 a.m. until late afternoon Sept. 1 for a water line repair. Photo: C. Leinbach

From 6 a.m. until late afternoon, the following Seashore facilities will not have water while the Ocracoke Sanitary District repairs the line:

•           NPS Campground

•           Ocracoke Day Use Area (Lifeguard Beach)

•           Ocracoke Island airport

•           Fish cleaning station and dump station on Devil Shoals Road

Portable toilets were delivered to the campground for use while the water line repair occurs. Potable water and flushable toilets are available at the Ocracoke Island Discovery Center at the south end of Ocracoke village across from the ferry docks.

Campground and beach access visitors should ensure they have sufficient water to stay hydrated during high heat conditions tomorrow.

Ocracoke events Aug. 30 to Sept. 5

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Ocracoke beach. Photo: P. Vankevich

Monday, Aug. 30
Friends of the Library Used Book Sale, Ocracoke Community Library (inside Deepwater Theater), 3 to 7 pm Monday through Friday; 9 am to 1 pm Saturday.

Tuesday, Aug. 31
Ocracoke Oyster Company: Bryan Mayer, 6:30pm

1718 Brewing Ocracoke: Open mic, 7 to 9 pm:

Coyote Music Den, 13 Cabana Dr: Coyote Backyard Concert, 8 pm. All concerts are sliding scale “pay what you can” at the gate. No reservations. Walk, Bike, Taxi or Tram. NO ON-SITE PARKING but the venue has a lot nearby. Visit www.coyotemusic.net for details.

Wednesday, Sep. 1
Coyote Music Den, 13 Cabana Dr: Coyote + Martin Garrish Backyard Concert, 8 pm. All concerts are sliding scale “pay what you can” at the gate. No reservations. Walk, Bike, Taxi or Tram. NO ON-SITE PARKING but the venue has a lot nearby. Visit www.coyotemusic.net for details.

Dajio: Barefoot Wade, 7pm

Thursday, Sep. 2
The Breeze: Cliff Beach, 9pm

Friday, Sep. 3
Dajio: The Ray McAllister Band, 7pm

Saturday, Sep. 4
Dajio: The Dune Dogs, 7pm

The Breeze: Cooper Greer Band, 9pm

Sunday, Sep. 5
The Breeze: Barefoot Wade, 9pm

Last week for the National Park Programs on Ocracoke
The National Park Service Ocracoke Island interpretive programs on Ocracoke, unless otherwise stated, are outside the Ocracoke Discovery Center at Pilot Town Road by the south end ferry docks. They will run until Labor Day, Sept. 6.

Note: Consistent with CDC guidance on the COVID-19 pandemic, visitors to Cape Hatteras National Seashore, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask inside all park buildings.

Stories of Ocracoke Island
Monday to Friday from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Learn about the location and legacy of Ocracoke Island. From serving as an early port village and primary point of entry to North Carolina to Blackbeard’s final battle, Ocracoke Island possesses a unique heritage resulting from its continued remote setting.

Shaping these barrier islands:
Monday to Friday from 2 to 2:30 p.m.  Wars, hurricanes, winds and ocean currents have all had impacts on the shores of Cape Hatteras.

War Comes to Ocracoke
Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 4:30 p.m. Learn about the role Ocracoke Island and the Outer Banks have played in shaping our country’s conflicts.

Ocracoke Island Lighthouse
Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit the lighthouse and discuss the details and history of this beautiful beacon. The base of the lighthouse will be staffed and open on dates and times listed above from June 2 through Aug. 13.

Banker Ponies
Every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10 to 10:45 a.m. at the Pony Pen. Come meet the ponies who once roamed as a wild herd and learn about their living history on Ocracoke Island.

Explore the Shore
Every Wednesday from 9 to 9:45 a.m. Meet outside at the beach access parking area adjacent to the Ocracoke Campground. Take an easy beach walk with a ranger and learn about what calls the beach its home.

Reflecting on 50 years on Ocracoke

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Ann Ehringhaus

By Ann Ehringhaus

A beautiful natural harbor greeted me and captured my heart a long time ago. There were approximately 550 people living on Ocracoke in 1971. Many were related by blood. They were drinking rainwater and eating mostly from sea and sandy gardens.

It was such a close-knit place but, of course, not everyone got along. I was only 22 and so naïve. I had just married and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill when I arrived at the Cedar Island ferry to come for a job interview.

I met a man named Elmo working on the ferry, and he was the beginning of Ocracoke history for me… 50 years ago in the summer of 1971!

Teaching at Ocracoke School showed me how connected Ocracoke people and families were. I learned about the islanders’ sense of humor and their deep love for this place.  Ocracoke has shaped my adult life thanks to all the strong, creative, fun and wise friends and neighbors I have known here. 

I’ve been an artist here, published several books and wrote my doctoral dissertation while living at Oscar’s House on Irvin Garrish Highway. 

I’ve started several island businesses, and had opportunities to work on creative projects, be on organizing committees, and really participate in local government and the issues that were affecting the island through the years.

Whatever your fantasy or interest, I encourage you to do it, to seek the way to start something, or participate so you can SEE how people can really make a difference in our village life.   

Whatever your fantasy or interest, I encourage you to do it, to seek the way to start something, or participate so you can SEE how people can really make a difference in our village life.  

And then there were the beach cars! 

I’ve had SO many old jeeps until finally Jimmy Jackson said to me, “Ann, don’t buy another beach car that costs less than $5,000,”and I listened to him.

Almost daily trips to swim in the ocean have offered great joy, and the ocean’s variety has shaped my understanding of how changeable things are, even big bodies of water — one day calm, and the next day fierce.

But mostly I’m thankful for living in this little place that is ruled by Big Nature. 

I have learned my plans are simply that — plans. They may or may not actually happen, mostly due to weather. Living close to these powerful forces has taught me whatever I know about acceptance and that I am in charge of only a few small things.

I have surrendered to the infinite life I experience here and also on Portsmouth Island.

I loved traveling to Portsmouth with Junius Austin, and later his sons Rudy and Donald. In recent years I have worked for the Park Service at the two cabin camps on Portsmouth and this August 2021 will work at the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. 

These precious days and nights with the barrier island beach and sky fill me up in inexplicable ways I can only express through art and writing.

Ocracoke is so deep in my heart and bones.

Today I am 72, and not so naïve anymore. No matter where I go, you, amazing island, are with me.

Living here as my primary home for 50 years has been my great fortune. In coming years, I don’t know where life will take me, but I feel we will see Hurricane Dorian as a turning point, just as World War II and tourism have been.

I was so lucky to know Ocracoke when community was its backbone, before tourism was a big factor, before we had any bars, and all ages danced together almost every Saturday night.

Life was truly simpler and less regulated. I have grown up on Ocracoke and for that I am forever thankful.    

Ann Ehringhaus is a photographer and author of Ocracoke Portrait (1988) and Ten Thousand Breakfasts (2013), both about life on Ocracoke. For 33 years. she operated Oscar’s House Bed and Breakfast, the subject of her 2013 book.

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