MOREHEAD CITY — The county weathered Hurricane Matthew with minor damage, fallen trees and limbs, some flooding and power outages.
As of today, power was restored to all residents after thousands were left with outages from the Category 1 storm. The county and several towns lifted state of emergencies and curfews late Monday.
Hurricane Matthew passed roughly 35 miles offshore Saturday and Sunday, leaving about 2-3 inches of rain, far less than other areas of the state now experiencing major flooding after the storm dumped upward of 15 inches of rain.
The county is under a coastal flood advisory until 11 a.m. Thursday. Two locations, Atlantic Mobile Home Park and Sea Gate, were under boil water advisories as a precaution.
As rivers, such as the Neuse and Trent, crest this week, rescue and recovery efforts continue for neighboring counties, and many roadway arteries leading into the coastal area are underwater.
There have been 19 storm-related deaths throughout the state, including one caused by a tree falling on a car, one confrontation with a state trooper that resulted in a fatal shooting, which the State Bureau of Investigation is investigating, and deaths from cars submerging when the drivers tried to pass through flooded areas.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Monday that federal disaster assistance has been made available to several North Carolina counties to assist in recovery efforts. For Carteret, it’s for cost-sharing emergency work, like sand nourishment.
According to public information statements from the National Weather Service’s local office, the highest rainfall amount here was 3.94 inches, recorded just north of Beaufort. In the western part of the county, 1.76 inches of rainfall was recorded in Cedar Point, while in the eastern area, 1.54 inches of rainfall was recorded on Cedar Island.
As for recorded winds, the NWS reported the highest wind gusts occurred in Beaufort, with 70 mph winds at about 2:15 a.m. Sunday. At Fort Macon on the east end of Bogue Banks, winds peaked at 69 mph at about 2:18 a.m. Sunday. In Indian Beach, the highest recorded winds were 56 mph at about 1:04 a.m. Sunday.
Preliminary surveys by county officials found little damage, County Manager Russell Overman said Monday.
One county-owned structure, the former Beaufort Elementary School on Mulberry Street, had a roofing cover torn lose early Sunday and left hanging along the side of the building. Crews will undertake minimal repairs for the roof of the structure, which is currently under contract with Carolina Coastal Capital LLC for purchase in January 2017.
The county has also prompted town officials to assemble preliminary estimates of property damage caused by the storm.
Beaufort officials surveyed roughly $135,300 in private property damage and reported no major incidents.
As for power, crews with Duke Progress Energy and Carteret-Craven Electric Co-op (CCEC) worked through several nights to restore power. Teams from other areas and states were called in. Assisting CCEC crews during the storm were Rutherford EMC, T&D Electric and Temple’s Tree Service.
“CCEC wants to thank its members for their patience and understanding during and after the storm,” CCEC Communications Director Lisa Galizia said. “We also want to give a big shout-out to Chick-fil-A in Morehead City and Fat Fellas in Newport for keeping our storm team fed while they worked around the clock to get the lights back on.”
County schools were already scheduled to be out Monday, but a mandatory work day for staff was switched to optional. There was a two-hour start delay Tuesday due to anticipated sound flooding.
The schools and Carteret Community College had minor damage, mostly downed trees and limbs.
By Monday, county convenience sites were reopened, but there’s no special sites for storm debris and county residents are asked not to put debris on the roadsides. Some towns will have pickups.
The county opened a pet-friendly shelter Saturday through noon Sunday at Newport Middle School. Sixty-two county residents, along with 15 dogs and six cats, sought refuge.
Residents, such as Pearline Tucker of Beaufort, along with her parents, Katie and Julius Murray of North River, said they were grateful for a safe place to hunker down Saturday at the Newport Middle School shelter.
“I was going to stay at the house, but the water was coming in so bad we didn’t want to stay and lose our vehicle,” Ms. Murray said.
No one stayed at the shelter for the medically fragile, which Carteret Health Care set up at the Leon Mann Jr. Enrichment Center in Morehead City. Clients from Pruitt-Health went home Sunday after they were moved Friday from the facility in Sea Level to First Presbyterian Church in Morehead City.
The Salvation Army served meals at the Newport shelter, and on Monday offered to take water and meals to residents still without power. They also offered to feed crews as they worked to restore power.
Lt. Roland Lewis said Tuesday that volunteers went to Cedar Island Monday to serve residents food and water, and may go back today if needed. He said they were waiting to hear if they would be deployed to other counties to assist with recovery efforts.
State ferry operations were up and running again Wednesday.
In Morehead City, manager Dave Whitlow said while some residents were without power on Monday, damage was minimal from Hurricane Matthew with some trees and branches causing minor damage to houses, but no roads closed.
“We came through surprisingly unscathed,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing.”
Carteret Health Care remained fully operational, according to Michelle Lee, community relations marketing director. The hospital did have to go on generator power for a short time during the strongest winds, but there was no physical damage to the campus.
Elsewhere, the state port was back to normal operations Monday, as well as the N.C. Port of Wilmington. There was no major damage on port premises.
No major damage was reported in Newport or on Bogue Banks. Beach erosion was minimal, according to town managers, as well as the superintendent at Fort Macon State Park.
Beach towns were without power for several hours, with Atlantic Beach going dark the longest, until Tuesday afternoon.
Emerald Isle Town Manager Frank Rush toured the town’s beaches Sunday with Gregory “Rudi” Rudolph, manager of the Carteret County Shore Protection Office, and said there were no dune breaches along the 12-mile strand, although there was minor erosion of the dunes in a few locations.
There was at least one area where water did get behind the frontal dunes, about a half-mile east of The Point, according to N.C. Coastal Federation staffer Sam Bland, who was jogging and took a photo.
Mr. Rush said he wouldn’t characterize that as a “breach,” because “the dune field is very large and variable” there.
As for the amount of sand deposited offshore, Mr. Rudolph said, “We will need to survey.”
A review to determine sand loss is necessary in order to apply for funds to reimburse costs to replace the sand under the federal disaster declaration, which was issued Friday, even before the storm reached North Carolina.
No other western towns reported major damage, just trees and dock repairs, but no flooding.
In Pine Knoll Shores, manager Brian Kramer said staff is working with a local contractor for storm debris pickup. A pickup was scheduled for Tuesday, with additional pickup possible today. A second pickup is scheduled for Monday for second homeowners.
Cape Lookout National Park Service reopened some areas of the seashore to the public. Check the park service website for updates.
Additionally, Island Express Ferry service will resume operations today. Vehicle ferries from Davis serving Great Island were also authorized to return to service Tuesday. The ferry service at Morris Marina in Atlantic serving Long Point has also been authorized to return to service.
Great Island cabins on South Core Banks and Long Point cabins on North Core Banks were set to reopen today, but the NPS said this is to allow repairs to be made. Check-ins will be starting at 1 p.m. today.
The service said the area on North Core Banks from Ramp 16 to Old Drum Inlet is open, but the beach starting from mile marker No. 4 to the north is closed to vehicles. Travel on the beach and back road between mile marker No. 4 and Old Drum Inlet is allowed in accordance with posted safety closures and wildlife buffers.
Portsmouth Village is flooded and remains closed until further notice to allow for a full assessment.