Hurricane Irene Recovery
Hurricane Irene made landfall on Saturday, August 27, 2011 at approximately 8:00 am EDT near Cape Lookout within the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Wind and rain inundated the islands for over 12 hours. For more information and images on this storm, visit NASA's Hurricane Irene webpage.
National Park Service (NPS) employees, including a National Park Service Incident Management Team from the Midwest and additional NPS employees from across the country, have been assessing the damage and making repairs since the passing of the storm. They are determining which areas of the seashore can be reopened without jeopardizing visitor safety or impacting resources.
Correct as of November 1, 2011
Harkers Island - the Harkers Island Visitor Center has reopened. The visitor center opens daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The walking trails behind the visitor center are open except for flagged sections of Soundside Loop trail, which sustained damage during the storm.
Shackleford Banks - is open for day use and to overnight visitors. The dock at the west end of Shackleford is open.
South Core Banks - all beaches are open to pedestrians and vehicles for day use and overnight camping. The lighthouse area, Cape Lookout Village, Great Island boat basin, and Carly dock are also open. The Light Station Visitor Center and Keepers' Quarters Museum are open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The cabins at Great Island Camp on South Core Banks are open for overnight lodging. The park will honor previous reservations starting October 1.
The lighthouse is closed for the 2011 climbing season.
North Core Banks - all beaches are open to pedestrians for day use and overnight camping. Portsmouth Village is open to pedestrians for day use.
Beginning Wednesday, November 2, the island will reopen to vehicle use. The following services will be available at Long Point: the long-term parking lot, a fish-cleaning station, potable water, a sanitary dump station, and the bathhouse and bathrooms.
Please note: the camp office will be closed. Gasoline, diesel and ice will not be available for sale at the camp. Until further notice, sales of ice and fuel may be arranged through the Morris Marina ferry operator.
The cabin area will remain closed to all use except for established routes from the beach to the ferry landing and sanitary dump station, and the route from the beach directly to the long-term parking lot and the bathhouse.
Work on the cabins and the infrastructure that supports them is not anticipated to be complete before the end of the season. The seashore is therefore canceling all reservations at Long Point for the remainder of the 2011 season.
Since the last update, the following work has been completed: The well pump was replaced, generators have been checked, materials have been purchased and transported to the island, and a roofing contractor will begin work in October on major roof repairs. In addition, re-grading of the "back road" has been completed and marking the dune lines and remaining vehicle routes is underway. The installation of a new septic system for the Long Point sanitary dump station is underway. The ferry basin has been dredged and the ferry dock repaired for use.
Prior to the hurricane landed, there were 73 sea turtle nests which had not hatched. The biologists are evaluating the number of nests remaining. As of September 1, seventeen nests have been located.
For more information on shorebird and sea turtle nesting within the park, visit the Wildlife Management webpage.
The census of the wild horses on Shackleford Banks found 116 of 117 horses. This includes two new foals born after the storm -- one born August 28th and one born September 8. All are doing well.
For more information on the wild horses, visit the Wild Horses webpage.
The iconic Cape Lookout lighthouse remains standing; a single window pane was broken. The Keepers' Quarters received minor damage and the summer kitchen sustained damage to its exterior.
The Cape Lookout Village Historic District was significantly damaged during the storm. The village is closed for repairs. The area is flagged and posted due to the debris.
There are trees down in Portsmouth Village; however, historic buildings seem to have faired well. Clean-up crews are at work removing hazardous and downed trees and debris.
Cabins and Other Buildings
Great Island cabins: Repairs to the camp have been completed and the cabins are open overnight lodging. The park will honor previous reservations starting October 1. Questions regarding cabin reservations should be directed to the Great Island reservation line at 252-729-0942.
Long Point cabins: The Long Point cabin area remains closed. This cabin area still requires extensive work before it can reopen. The necessary work includes: replacement of the propane fuel system, and repairs to the water well, cabin roofs, siding, steps, septic systems, and roads.
Because the necessary work to the Long Point cabins and their infrastructure is not expected to be completed before the end of the season, all reservations at Long Point for the 2011 season have been canceled.
South Core Banks: is open to vehicle use. The Great Island and Lighthouse long-term parking lots are open. Individuals who purchased parking permits before the storm should contact Lynn Winstead at 252-728-2250 ext. 3018 for more information.
Hurricane Irene exposed buried objects along the beach. Drivers will need to be aware of these hazards.
North Core Banks: Vehicle use will resume on the island on November 2. Returning visitors are cautioned to be extra careful since the island was subject to a tremendous amount of erosion and overwash from Hurricane Irene and there are still numerous hazards partly buried in the sand.
Visitors should also be very mindful of the signs designating where vehicles may operate; routes have been marked to allow for dune regrowth and to keep vehicles on specific routes on the beach, backroad and designated crossover ramps.
For more information on beach driving, visit the Off-Road Vehicles webpage.
Did You Know?
In the early 1900s, development plans were proposed for Cape Lookout. The layout had more than 3000 lots and included a railroad connecting Beaufort to the Cape Lookout Coast Guard Station. Photo courtesy of Samuel Lee Willis.