Dear Fellow Islanders,
As I sit in my home office writing this update message to you this early morning I reflect on my years of service as a public servant to the island..., my 1st official day serving on island happened to be September 15th, 2004. What prompted this reflection? I was reminded of my anniversary date with the island by a good friend as we spoke last evening when he called out of a concern to see how my family & I were doing following the storm as he hadn't heard from me since the storm.
What sticks in my mind most about that time, is not about the 1st day on the job, but the weeks to follow..., just a month prior Hurricane Charley hit the coast of NC and BHI..., a storm surge of a mere +/- 2 feet, with isolated reports of 8' feet, particularly along the southern coast of Brunswick County. The damages sustained to the island severely impacted areas of south beach breaching the sandbag revetment wall in front the Club wiping out a good portion of the road, water, and sewer lines. The road at the time was a two-lane bifurcated road with a median, just as it is on both the west & east sides today before narrowing down to a single lane. My very 1st project assigned to me by the Village Manager at the time was to put that road back, a very daunting task at the time I thought, given my limited experience in all things "road construction" and dealing with many of the state regulatory agencies like the Division of Coastal Management.
Here we are today in the aftermath of Florence, 10 days following my last step onto the ferry that departed the island due to a mandatory evacuation and state of emergency having been put in place (and still in effect), 12 Village Voice messages later, and I for one didn't think any of us would have imagined we'd still not be able to return to the island. But please know that with the same energy, enthusiasm, dedication & determination, my staff & I will work just as hard as we did back in 2004 to get the island repaired and back to normal as quickly as possible as WE WANT YOU ALL BACK, but it must be safe to do so, and not a moment too soon.
While I am very anxious to get back to the island this morning, given all of the hard work put in yesterday by our EOC Team, and volunteers - the subject of which I'll briefly hit on next, and all of the pumps that we have now moving massive amounts of floodwaters off the island in all directions to include the creek, west beach, and south beach, with optimism & hope that our efforts have dropped the water levels significantly. For the 1st time that I can recall through all the hurricanes we've recovered from, we have opened up the 2nd set of "emergency" outfalls on south beach, and while it doesn't have a direct pipe connection to the lagoon system like the other, just the mere opening of its landward end, we've managed to maintain a gravity flow of floodwaters out to the ocean from areas of Snowy Egret, Black Skimmer, and Mourning Warbler.
On the subject of volunteers..., when we started this effort in returning back to the island to get underway with recovery efforts and not knowing what to expect, Southport & Oak Island were effectively cut-off from all outside areas beyond the city, the river closed with the exception of special provisions of the USCG for BHI Transportation to run a ferry there in support of emergency recovery, and less than a dozen Village staff - a mix of Public Safety & Utilities, we had to find help, and quick! We identified several capable hands, who continue to assist, and we are grateful for their efforts to step up.
As the Mayor indicated in his prior message, the Village appreciates the continued flow of e-mails & phone calls from others wanting to volunteer, many being individual property owners, contractors, and of recent a church organization - but all of which volunteering with a desire to get the island back to some level of normalcy!
At this point in time, we have what we believe are adequate numbers to support floodwater mitigation efforts as well as vegetative debris removal in simply cutting & pushing debris off to the side of the road. Having said, we will continue to accept the offers of volunteerism detailing what physical capabilities one may have and assets available to them (i.e. chainsaws). As we assess future needs in the days to come on priorities & objectives, the EOC Director & Incident Commander Director Pearson, Mayor, and I, will most certainly review these potential assets and reach out as needed. But as most of you know, an effort of this magnitude requires a very thoughtful & strategic plan in the numbers of people relative to the mission..., too many "bodies" and we have the potential for chaos and a decrease in efficiency & overall effectiveness. To date, I believe Director Pearson and the rest of the EOC Team have done a good job in carrying out the daily recovery operations.
Last, I want to end with the following two points before updating you on what we can expect today and the next few days hereafter; First, I want to thank all of you for the e-mails, texts, and messages of support I've received throughout the last few days giving praise to the efforts of our staff and others assisting with recovery..., while there may be criticism and a question of decisions made to date, they have been minimal. We will press forward keeping our eye on the objective in getting the water off the island. Second, to those folks using social media (i.e. Facebook), to get answers and/or updates from others, I would encourage you not to do so given the amount of "mis-information, rumor, and innuendo" I've been informed of as the "official" word is that of the Village's Voice.
AT THIS TIME, WE REMAIN IN PHASE ONE (A)...
THE ISLAND STILL REMAINS UNDER A STATE OF EMERGENCY ALONG WITH BRUNSWICK COUNTY AND A NUMBER OF MUNICIPALITIES LOCATED WITHIN AND INCLUDES A NIGHTLY CURFEW FOR BRUNSWICK COUNTY EACH NIGHT UNTIL SEPTEMBER 24TH AS NCDOT ROAD CREWS WORK THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT MAKING NEEDED REPAIRS.
BHI MARINA & DEEP POINT MARINA'S:
While there may be some question of those as it relates to the closure of the river and/or ports..., whether it be by the NC Ports & US Army Corps of Engineers, or USCG, know that the marina's themselves are currently closed due to on-going recovery efforts and operations of vessels to & from in support thereof and we ask all who may have private boats to abide.
BHI MARINA & DEEP POINT MARINA
UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
DUKE ENERGY UPDATE:
Duke Energy personnel & assets have coordinated with BHI
Transportation to mobilize to the island this morning. Duke has already done some assessments through drone imagery and onsite visits. As of yesterday, needed repairs effecting the plant and distribution to the island from the mainland continue.
AT THIS TIME, DUKE ENERGY POWER HAS STILL NOT BEEN RESTORED TO THE ISLAND AND WE DO NOT HAVE AN ESTIMATED TIME FOR RESTORATION. THIS IS CONFIRMED WITH DUKE ENERGY.
CONTINUED PUMPING OPERATIONS AND DEBRIS REMOVAL WILL BE THE PRIORITIES OF THE DAY!
LOOK FOR AN ADDITIONAL UPDATE LATER TODAY!