As he has throughout the storm, N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory combined his role of lifeguard and cheerleader when talking about Hurricane Arthur on Friday.
At his news conferences before and after the storm, McCrory warned people about the dangers of the storm, which made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 2 hurricane. But he also said several times that he planned to be in Southport by Friday afternoon for the 4th of July parade.
Here are five things to know about the governor’s news conferences and Hurricane Arthur’s effect in North Carolina:
A warning and an advertisement:
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McCrory segued from warnings about the dangers of rip currents to promoting North Carolina’s beaches.
“We do want people to enjoy the beach but if the local authorities say don’t get in the water, then don’t get in the water,” McCrory said. “And we mean it. This is not worth the loss of life or injuries or putting other people at risk.”
But right now, especially on the southern beaches, he said, “it looks like normal conditions. And that is extremely good news for North Carolina.”
On Atlantic Beach, he said, “the umbrellas are going up right now.”
N.C. 12/Bonner Bridge:
McCrory said Friday that he expected both the bridge, which is the only land link between Hatteras Island and the rest of the state, and the two-lane N.C. Highway 12 to reopen by late Saturday. The usual sand and water were piled up on N.C. 12, he said, and the road also had some buckling. Inspectors were waiting for the waters in the Oregon Inlet to calm down before heading out to do a sonar reading of the bridge, which the state is trying to replace, he said.
Transportation Department spokesman Mike Charbonneau said a roughly 20-foot section of N.C. 12 could be at least temporarily patched to handle vehicles by sometime Saturday. Engineers haven’t found other problems with the island artery or any other state roadways, he said.
The road issues mean the ferry between Hatteras and Ocracoke won’t open immediately. But longer routes between Ocracoke and Swan Quarter and Ocracoke and Cedar Island could start operating later Friday, he said.
By late Friday morning, power outages were at 41,500 customers, with 11,000 of those in Carteret County. Ocracoke Island in Hyde County had no power or communications, and officials said the state was sending a generator there on a ferry Friday afternoon. Even when Ocracoke is open, it’s accessible only by a ferry to the north to Hatteras Island and by longer ferry routes to Swan Quarter and Cedar Island.
Tideland EMC said on its Facebook page that it likely will be Sunday before power is fully restored on Ocracoke Island.
While residents in other coastal areas were pleasantly surprised by the lack of damage from Arthur, some on Hatteras Island were less pleased with the storm’s effects.
Jesse and Carol Wray could see outside their home in Salvo on Hatteras Island that N.C. 12 was submerged under several feet of water early Friday. The 6-foot-tall lamppost at the end of their driveway was under water except for its top, and that was after the sound a quarter-mile away receded several feet since first light, said Jesse Wray, 68, a retired Norfolk, Virginia, firefighter.
“I’m surprised that it got this bad. There’s all kind of debris floating around here. I know a lot of people who lost their houses around here” if they were built on the ground instead of elevated, Wray said. Wray’s home is on pilings nine feet off the ground so he avoided water inside.
“It looks kind of rough,” he said.
About seven miles further south on the island, Frank Folb, 70, said his brick home on a rise in Buxton suffered no damage. Tomato plants in his garden were twisted and broken, but “overall it’s not bad,” he said. “I’ve been losing electricity but I slept through the night pretty well.”
One last warning (or two):
McCrory advised governors of other states not to take Hurricane Arthur for granted, even though North Carolina seemed to have come through the storm fairly well.
“I encourage them to take this very seriously as we did and hope for the best results,” he said. “We’ve always felt that it was better to overreact than underreact. Gladly this storm was more underwhelming than anticipated, which was very good news.”
He warned citizens not to get complacent. “In future storms, don’t always anticipate these good results,” he said.