Online Originals: Ocracoke residents deal with Dorian’s aftermath

Online Originals

Hyde County’s Ocracoke Island suffered immensely at the hands of Hurricane Dorian. With over 400 homes on the island affected, the community is in recovery mode.

The island is 9 miles long and home to around a thousand residents. Many who live on Ocracoke rely on tourism for their income, with summer and fall months being the prime visiting months. Currently, there are no working restaurants on the island and one open convenient store. The island is only allowing ferry boat access to residents, disaster relief, and certain news media. Because of these setbacks, community members are worried.

The main debris dumping ground on Ocracoke Island.

Benjamin Monroe has lived on Ocracoke most of his life, and while his home suffered minor damage, his mother’s was destroyed.

“Well, she’s been in this house 70 some years. I think I was five when they moved in here, her and my dad. It’s just…you don’t really want to move, at least not at that age. I mean she understands but she ain’t seen none of this, and I don’t want her to. I mean when you have to leave your home and go somewhere else, it’s just I don’t know hard to imagine.” 

Mr. Monroe pointing to where the floor collapsed (below) from the flooding in his mothers home.

Adding to the homes interior damage from the flooding, an electrician told Monroe due to the age of the house it’ll need complete rewiring. He says many of his mother’s photos were destroyed in the water, but they were able to save some documents and cards she’d kept over time.

Benjamin was able to save many of his mothers memories like cards and documents, pictured here inside a box and trashcan. She hasn’t seen the extent of the home’s damage.

Although many homes were ruined, island stores suffered as well. Mickey Baker and her business partner Carmie Prete have owned the clothing store Mermaid’s Folly in Ocracoke’s center village for 15 years. The store, which had previously never flooded, suffered interior damage and loss of merchandise during Dorian.

Mermaid Folly suffered flooding and loss of merchandise during Dorian. Floorboards were lifted and covered in contaminated sand (below).

“Well I saw my big summer cotton brim hats floating around in the water, and they were the first things to get hit. I thought well I better go get those hats. Then I looked around and I realized well I better go get the t-shirts.”

Baker says her office, which she referred to as her ‘haven’, was completely destroyed. She’s also working on restoring her computers, but said she was surprised when a backup battery blew up in her hand.

As someone who’s income relies on tourism, Baker expressed the need for help on the island so that she and others can get back to work.

“Ocracoke is the cash cow for Hyde County and we need to have help here.” 

– Mickey Baker, Mermaid Folly Co-Owner

Although the cleanup process is ongoing, Baker expressed her belief that the community and its residents won’t let this setback get them down because Ocracoke is their home.

” We absolutely love the beach and the environment. You know people ask me you know ‘Why are you here? Why did you land on Ocracoke?’, and my answer is the beauty…you know just the sheer beauty, a lot of feminine energy here. People get off the ferry and feel right at home. It’s like ‘ ah I can breathe’. There’re no red lights, there are no fast foods, there are no chains. So, we’re very blessed to be here.” 

If you would like to help out Ocracoke Island and its residents, you can click on these links below.

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