Ocracoke relief efforts to get a boost with limited N.C. 12 reopening Thursday

NCDOT photo of damage to N.C. 12 on Ocracoke Island following Hurricane Dorian.

Ocracoke will take another small step forward in the recovery from Hurricane Dorian on Thursday, when N.C. 12 on will reopen to certain four-wheel drive vehicles, but there are still restrictions on who can come to the island.

Hyde County is only allowing residents, non-resident property owners, and personnel authorized by Hyde County Emergency Management to access Ocracoke Island. All motorists and pedestrians boarding an Ocracoke-bound ferry must meet the re-entry criteria or be given prior approval by Hyde County.

The N.C. Department of Transportation says traffic will be limited to only four-wheel drive vehicles rated at 3/4 ton capacity or smaller, such as Ford F250, GM K2500, Ram 2500, etc. Trailers will not be allowed at this time.

A pair of 500-foot sections of N.C. 12 on the north end of Ocracoke Island were damaged by last month’s hurricane.

In the past, four-wheel drive vehicles have been able to use improvised sand roads around damaged areas of N.C. 12 on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands while repairs are underway.

Plans are to reopen the road fully by November 22, but there has still not been an announcement on when visitors will be allowed back on Ocracoke.

With the partial reopening of N.C. 12, the N.C. Ferry System will discontinue running boats between the Hatteras and Silver Lake docks on Thursday.

The Ferry System will be running vessels across Hatteras Inlet on the following schedule:

    Hatteras to Ocracoke South Dock: 6, 7, and 8 a.m., 5, 6, and 7 p.m.
    Ocracoke South Dock to Hatteras: 7:30, 8:30 and 9:15 a.m., 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 p.m.

Reservations are not available on the Hatteras-Ocracoke route. Vehicles will be loaded by the re-entry priority procedures established by Hyde County. Motorists should arrive 30 minutes before departure time.

The Swan Quarter-Ocracoke and Cedar Island-Ocracoke routes will switch to the following schedules on Oct. 8:

    Swan Quarter to Ocracoke: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m.
    Ocracoke to Swan Quarter: 9:30 a.m., 2 p.m., 8 p.m.
    Cedar Island to Ocracoke: 7 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 4:30 p.m.
    Ocracoke to Cedar Island: 7:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 4 p.m.

Also, there will be an additional run for fuel and vendor deliveries on Wednesdays, departing Swan Quarter at 8 a.m. and returning from Ocracoke to Swan Quarter at 2:30 p.m.

Reservations on these routes are highly recommended, and can be obtained by calling 1-800-BY-FERRY. All reservation holders must arrive at the terminal one hour before departure time. In addition, same-day reservations for ferries departing Ocracoke are not available, and next-day reservations must be made before 4 p.m.

Volunteer groups approved to access Ocracoke are encouraged to board the ferries without vehicles to leave as much deck space as possible for vehicles necessary for hurricane recovery services.

Ocracoke commuter pass owners whose vehicles were destroyed in the storm can obtain new passes by bringing their information and identification to the Ocracoke-Silver Lake ferry terminal between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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Sam Walker was news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3 from August 2011 to March 2022.