While they wait for power to be restored, some of those visitors who had planned to vacation at Ocracoke and Hatteras are hitting the beach elsewhere, whether it’s in North Carolina or a neighboring state.
“We have gotten some bookings,” said Mitzi York, executive director at the Brunswick County Development Authority. “At this point, I can’t really say how much.”
Brunswick County is home to Oak Island, Bald Head Island and Sunset, Ocean Isle, Holden and Caswell beaches. Just like other coastal communities, its motels and rental properties usually are near capacity this time of year, but York said there still are openings for some of those who are determined to reach the beach despite being locked out of the southern Outer Banks while crews work to restore power there.
Visitors can find a listing of motels and rental agencies in Brunswick County at www.ncbrunswick.com/.
Teresa Diza of the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau told the Virginian-Pilot that that area had seen a huge increase in visitors since the outage. Virginia Beach is just north of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
And a spokesman for Currituck County was quick to point out that power is fully on in the Outer Banks areas north of Hatteras – about 100 miles of coastline that includes Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Southern Shores, Duck, Corolla, and Carova Beach.
Some of the 50,000 people who would otherwise be on Hatters Island and the 10,000 or so who would be at Ocracoke have gone as far away as Myrtle Beach.
Others have sought alternate accommodations in Emerald Isle and Atlantic Beach, in Carteret County, where it’s a 60- to 90-minute drive to the Cedar Island ferry that will begin taking visitors to Ocracoke Island as soon as the evacuation order is lifted. Power company and county emergency management officials have said power should be restored by Monday and possibly as early as Saturday. Once it’s been tested, the orders can be lifted and visitors will be allowed back in.
“We are getting some folks that have been displaced,” said Carol Lohr, executive director of the Crystal Coast Tourism Authority in Morehead City. Some of those are optimists whose reservations on Ocracoke begin Saturday or Sunday, and they want to be close by when the lights come on.
Desk clerks at motels in Kitty Hawk, on the northern Outer Banks, and on Emerald Isle said they had booked some rooms for those shut out of their rentals on Hatteras and Ocracoke, though they reported having relatively few rooms available. A spotcheck of vacation home rentals found several homes still available on the northern Banks.
Lohr said the tourism authority has been updating its list www.crystalcoastnc.org/region/all/lodging of available rooms, cottages and condos daily to help people with the search.
Dare County is doing the same at www.outerbanks.org/accommodations-vacancies/.