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Ocracoke residents drying out and cleaning up

By Ellen Bacca
Published On: Nov 01 2012 06:34:27 PM CDT
Updated On: Nov 01 2012 10:21:01 PM CDT
HYDE COUNTY -

Fewer than 1,000 people live on Ocracoke Island, tucked along the Outer Banks.  As a community, they braced for Hurricane Sandy.

"Yeah, it was worse than Irene," said Mark Ganoe, who had lived on Ocracoke for six years.

The flood water rose dangerously high as Sandy side-swiped our state.

"There were people kayaking down the roads and boats with motors going down the roads," said Ganoe.

Most streets were inundated with water as deep as three and a half feet.

"The scariest part for me was knowing there was no way to get medical care," said Jana Ganoe.

Residents say it wasn't the rain that caused the flooding, rather it was the wind driven surge. The water was highest on Saturday night.

"It flooded four feet under our house, took the truck with it," said Laurie Death. Her truck was still damp more than 5 days later.

In the wake of the storm, the only public dock in the town was destroyed. Twisted pieces of wood now sit offshore from the boat launch, blocked off by red caution tape.  Although the wind didn't do much damage in town, aside from bringing down two trees, it did a number on Highway 12.

"We were down there the other day and couldn't get through. Now they have one side open to get down to the ferry." said Mark Ganoe.

Removal crews are beginning to push the sand off the roadways, but other problems north of Ocracoke remain. The stretch of Highway 12 from Rodanthe to the Bonner Bridge remains closed and will need to be re-paved. This project may not be complete until Thanksgiving.

There are a few success stories scattered across the town - one from Sean Death. He and his wife own the only gas station on the island. He says with previous storms, tourists have raided their store and depleted their supply right before vacating the island.  In the past, this left little supplies for residents planning on weathering the storm. So this year they tried something new, they rationed gas.

"We cut the tourists off and sort of rationed it a $10 dollars per person who was leaving the island. However the locals and the natives that were staying on the island were allowed as much fuel as they wanted to pump," said Sean Death.

Death says the ration worked well and gas supplies will last until the next refueling truck.

Overall, the locals say they are grateful the damage wasn't far reaching and the community is supportive.

"The whole community comes together in the whole deal which doesn't really happen everywhere," said Ganoe.

For now, the residents of Ocracoke will enjoy the quiet between the storms because they know more storms will eventually be knocking at their door.