Hurricane Florence continued to impact Emerald Isle all day long, bringing more tropical storm force winds and additional rainfall, some of which was very heavy at times. Wind gusts in the 30-40 mph range persisted all afternoon, and the Town's total recorded rainfall at the Town Government Complex is now up to nearly 14 inches, with locally higher amounts in some areas of Emerald Isle. Wind and rain impacts should subside by sometime Saturday morning.
Town Staff Working Hard to Expedite Recovery as Much as Possible
Despite the continuing storm conditions, Town staff were out all day long in the wind and rain to begin essential tasks that must be completed before residents, property owners, and the general public can return to Emerald Isle. We want to do whatever we need to do to get people back in Emerald Isle quickly and safely, but public safety is the top factor in these decisions.
Efforts today include, among other tasks:
- Crack-of-dawn initial assessments by Town officials to gain a better understanding of the damage received, the recovery task at hand, and communicate such information to the public.
- All day efforts to remove numerous downed trees from Town streets, in part so power restoration crews can access areas where repairs are necessary. At the most basic level, the Town simply can not reopen the island until the streets are completely passable for motorists and emergency vehicles, and can not reopen the island if downed power lines remain across Town streets and present life-threatening hazards. Additionally, the Town is working to support Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative crews in any way helpful to expedite the restoration of power in Emerald Isle. The entire town remains without power as of 7 pm Friday.
- Although the storm's impacts are not finalized (as additional winds and rainfall continue to impact the Town), Town staff made significant progress on the comprehensive damage assessment that is necessary to better understand the public safety risks that must be considered in any decision to reopen the island, and promote an efficient and cost-effective recovery process.
- Continuous police patrol throughout the Town to ensure that properties are protected from potential thieves seeking to take advantage of this natural disaster. The EIPD has additional officers on staff during the Town-wide curfew to provide the best possible patrol coverage, and is working to hard to protect your property.
- Coordination with the Town's pre-positioned debris and rental equipment contractors to expedite the collection and removal of storm debris, and to address significant storm water flooding issues.
Town staff have been in place at the Town Government Complex around the clock since Wednesday morning, and many will remain at the Town Government Complex tonight and through the weekend to promote the earliest possible return for our residents and property owners.
Emerald Isle Bridge Will Remain Closed on Saturday, and Likely Beyond
Despite Town staff's best efforts today, it is not yet safe for property owners or the general public to return to Emerald Isle. The Emerald Isle bridge WILL NOT OPEN on Saturday, and will remain closed until further notice. No one is allowed to enter Emerald Isle until further notice, and the Town remains under a 24-hour, Town-wide curfew. The curfew will remain in effect until it is safe for the public to travel around Emerald Isle. It is illegal for anyone to leave their own property while the curfew is in effect.
The curfew will be lifted and the bridge will be reopened only when Town officials have determined that it is safe for residents, property owners, and the general public. The Town's criteria for lifting the curfew and reopening the island are as follows:
- remove all downed trees and limbs from Town streets to enable power crews to repair damaged poles and electric lines,
- eliminate / remove all hazardous power lines (and other overhead utility lines) on the ground or hanging in such a way that present a safety hazard to the public,
- ensure that the public water supply is available to serve the public,
- secure all abandoned LP gas tanks, and
- ideally, realize at least some minimal restoration of power to even a small portion of the Town (the entire Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative system, with more than 40,000 customers, remains offline at this time).
The Town simply can not reopen the island for anyone until all of the tasks listed above are complete, and the magnitude of Florence and the damage left in its wake simply require time - for Town staff, for power restoration crews, and for other utility crews. The Town will take a day-to-day approach, and will review the progress toward meeting these criteria each day before announcing a specific re-opening date and time. It is also likely that the Town will initially allow residents and property owners who possess a Town re-entry permit to return to Emerald Isle earlier than the general public.
All of us at the Town understand everyone's concerns about their property and your desire to return to Emerald Isle as soon as possible, and all of us are working as hard as we possibly can to allow you to do that safely. We thank you for your patience and your understanding as we work to ensure your safety and the safety of others. Nice Matters!
Information about the bridge and the curfew will be disseminated on the Town's various digital platforms listed below as soon as these decisions are made.
The Town works hard to keep our residents, property owners, and visitors well-informed, and offers several platforms.
To receive the most current information from the Town of Emerald Isle, please:
- visit the Town's website at https://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/ ,
- check the Town's Facebook page at Town of Emerald Isle, NC,
- follow the Town's Twitter feed: @townemeraldisle,
- sign up for the Town's email newsletter at https://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/email-text-notifications ,
- sign up for text message alerts at https://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/email-text-notifications , and/or
- download the Emerald Isle APP at Google Play and The APP Store (search for "emerald isle nc") and enable "push" notifications.