Hurricane Isabel is gone and Emerald Isle was very lucky in that it incurred a minimal amount of damage. Our neighbors at the other end of the county were not so lucky and had significant wind and water damage. The Town of Emerald Isle has provided assistance to the affected communities by sending some town staff to those areas and collecting money and items for delivery "down east".
Emerald Isle Town Staff was well prepared for Hurricane Isabel. Preparations actually began last spring when the Disaster/Hurricane Manual was reviewed and updated in anticipation of the upcoming hurricane season. The manual spells out specific actions to be taken by each department.
The week prior to the hurricane arriving was a busy week for all town staff. It was time for all Department Managers to pull out the Disaster/Hurricane Manual and review the responsibilities for their area. They checked on such things as making sure the off-the-island Control Center was still available and had all necessary supplies; checking to see that all equipment was operating properly; making sure all fuel tanks were topped off, and buying food for the workers in the case the grocery store wasn't able to open up immediately after the storm. Since we incurred minimal hurricane damage, most of this food was not needed, and it was sent to our friends "down east". Town staff issued Hurricane Reentry Passes over the weekend until Tuesday night. Hurricane Reentry passes are valid forever, so if you don't have one or need more please contact Town Hall 252-354- 3424 now to get a pass for future years.
On Tuesday morning (the hurricane didn't arrive until about 10 AM Thursday) the County Emergency Services Officer called a meeting of all eleven municipalities in Pine Knoll Shores. Emerald Isle was represented by the Mayor, Town Manager, and Fire Chief. The latest weather report indicated Carteret County had a high probability of being hit with hurricane force winds, and that it could arrive as early as Thursday morning. We also thought that Emerald Isle alone had 10,000 - 15,000 people that needed to be evacuated. Based on this information, it was decided to start a voluntary evacuation immediately, and a mandatory evacuation started at 7 AM Wednesday. The evacuation went very smooth and was completed by that Wednesday afternoon.
During the storm about 30 of the Town's staff of 70 stayed in several Town buildings. The Town Manager, Receptionist, and Mayor stayed in Town Hall. The Manager stayed in constant contact with the Police and Fire Departments to stay aware of conditions in other parts of Town. The Town Manager frequently updated the Town's Web Site with the latest local information. Unfortunately, we lost the connection to our web hosting machine at about Noon Thursday, so there were no updates from then until Friday about Noon when the connection was reestablished.
About 4 PM, the major part of the storm seemed to have passed, so the Police Chief, Town Manager, and Mayor started checking the town for damage. Since the damage was minimal, we checked with the other Bogue Banks Towns and it was decided to reopen the bridge at 6 PM Thursday night to everyone.
In summary, the staff was well organized, knew what they had to do, and did it well. We are fortunate to have a dedicated and professional staff and we all should be proud of them