With $20.8 million in federal emergency funding, work began last week on rebuilding dunes along N.C. 12 at Mirlo Beach and Rodanthe, where Hurricane Sandy and later storms washed out or covered sections of the road. Replenishing the beach at Rodanthe is also scheduled.
The Army Corps of Engineers, meanwhile, is continuing to dredge the channel between Hatteras and Ocracoke. Temporary ferry service is now available. Full service is expected to return in mid-April, ahead of the summer tourism season.
As that season gets under way, the governor and others in Raleigh need to keep their focus on the Outer Banks’ needs. A long-term solution – including wiser land-use practices in the face of rising sea levels – are imperative. As is the repudiation of the conspiracy theorists who have for too long influenced environmental policy along the Atlantic shore.
In the meantime, state officials need to provide quick, definitive help to one of the state’s biggest tourism draws as soon as it’s needed.
Last year was one of the most successful on record for the Outer Banks, with gross occupancy receipts in Dare County alone hitting $382 million. That success won’t be replicated if people can’t get there.