Ocracoke Observer: Cooper requests SBA declaration; Ocracoke Strong kitchen reopens; alcohol sales resume

Jason Wells, left, cooks free food Sept. 11 for the island after the devastation of Hurricane Dorian. He resumed cooking at lunch Monday in the Community Center. [Connie Leinbach photo]

Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday asked the U.S. Small Business Administration to grant a disaster declaration for North Carolina counties that were affected by Hurricane Dorian. Meanwhile, restaurateur Jason Wells is once again cooking free daily meals for the community and alcohol sales have resumed in Ocracoke village.

Cooper’s request follows last week’s FEMA denial

This request is the first step in establishing a state relief program after FEMA denied North Carolina’s request for Individual Assistance for Carteret, Dare, Hyde and New Hanover Counties on Oct. 8

If granted, the declaration would provide low-interest disaster loans to people affected by Hurricane Dorian, and it would be the first piece of a state managed relief program for Dorian’s victims.

The request is for assistance to affected individuals and businesses in Carteret, Dare, Hyde, New Hanover and all contiguous counties.

Following the SBA declaration, Cooper intends to sign an order for state-funded individual assistance which would provide grants to supplement SBA loans for Dorian affected individuals and businesses.

The state will then open disaster recovery centers in affected counties for people to apply for SBA loans and state grants.

“I’m asking the SBA for assistance so we can get more state help to Hurricane Dorian survivors as quickly as possible,” Cooper said in a press release. “While it’s disappointing that federal government assistance for this was turned down, we know that North Carolinians should not leave each other behind.”

Ocracoke Strong kitchen reopens Monday; alcohol sales resume

The “Ocracoke Strong” kitchen reopens today from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Ocracoke Community Center.

Jason Wells, co-owner of Jason’s Restaurant, which is undergoing repairs from Hurricane Dorian flooding, will be cooking homemade chicken noodle soup and egg salad sandwiches for lunch today, enough for 400, he said on Facebook.

According to his Facebook post, the following is the tentative lunch schedule this week: Tuesday will be a food truck; Wednesday will be tacos with Kathy Perez; Thursday will be a food truck; Friday TBA; and Saturday will be a fish fry with all the fixings.

Wells cautions that, “depending on the availability of outside food trucks, the days I’m cooking could change at the drop of the hat. So please be sure to check Facebook daily and spread the word to the non-Facebook peeps.”

Anyone who wants to volunteer to help Wells cook or just serve, contact him at 252-921-0263.

Wells began the Ocracoke Strong Kitchen a few days after Hurricane Dorian devastated the island on Sept. 6 with food donated by the island’s major food suppliers. His meals, with help by other island chefs, supplemented the free meals supplied right after the storm by the Salvation Army and the Baptists on Mission, who departed the island this past weekend.

Also, as per the Hyde County commissioners’ approval at their Oct. 7 meeting, alcohol sales resume on Ocracoke today.

Among those opening today will be Zillie’s on Back road, open from 2 to 8:30 p.m. daily and is offering a 20 percent across-the-board discount until the evacuation order is lifted.

While the mandatory evacuation for Ocracoke is still in effect while the island rebuilds, the commissioners also pushed back the island-wide curfew hours. It is now from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.