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Mounds of Trash Finally Disappearing 5 Months after Dorian

As of this week, crews have collected and disposed of 36,669 cubic yards of vegetative waste including parts or all of about 3,000 damaged trees. Debris from roughly 300 ruined homes and businesses has totaled more than 54,000 cubic yards.

Ocracoke Recovery
A mountain of construction debris is piled in a parking lot as Ocracoke recovers from Hurricane Dorian flooding on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. This is just a small part of the debris left behind after Dorian's flooding. The pile has dwindled to a few feet wide and long now.
(TNS) - More than 9,000 dump truck loads later, Ocracoke is nearly free of the debris left behind by Hurricane Dorian five months ago.

The island of 950 people should be free of the storm refuse by the end of February, said Hyde County emergency management director Justin Gibbs.

“We’ve got small piles here and there, but the streets are pretty clear now,” he said.

As of this week, crews have collected and disposed of 36,669 cubic yards of vegetative waste including parts or all of about 3,000 damaged trees, Gibbs said.

Debris from roughly 300 ruined homes and businesses has totaled more than 54,000 cubic yards. A dump truck hauls about 10 cubic yards depending on the load.

So far, 2,801 appliances including refrigerators and washing machines have been hauled away.

In all, the losses totaled 6,646 tons, a weight equivalent to eight of the state’s largest ferries.

On September 6, Dorian’s backside pushed the Pamlico Sound onto the island, surging to a record 7 feet in places.

People waded chest-deep through their living rooms and sought refuge in attics to escape the rising water. Rescuers in boats motored along the streets to windows saving people trapped within their homes.

Trees fell, the highway buckled, protective dunes collapsed and cars were inundated.

In the aftermath, people began to haul out ruined refrigerators, couches and clothing and tore out destroyed and moldy drywall, insulation, carpets and floorboards.

Trash stood in long, tall jumbled piles along nearly every road in Ocracoke Village. Hyde County crews filled trucks for months with debris and hauled most of it to a parking lot belonging to Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The mound was two stories tall and 100 yards long at one point. Gradually, it dwindled to a few feet tall and wide.

The estimated cost of the debris removal was $26 million two months ago. Revised costs were not immediately available, Gibbs said.

The work unexpectedly slowed when a channel to the south ferry docks shallowed.

Trash trucks going to the regional landfill in Bertie County used ferries going to Swan Quarter. They dock in Silver Lake, close to the village. When the channel from the docks had less water, only smaller ferries could make it through and the scheduled runs were reduced.

The county had to send trucks to docks at the north end of the island 15 miles away to catch ferries going to Hatteras Island instead, Gibbs said. The work got back on track. The number of trucks departing with loads of trash increased from one or two a day to up to eight a day, he said.

Watching the mounds gradually go away has provided a psychological lift to the locals, said Ivey Belch, pastor of Lifesaving Church on the island. He has preached many sermons since the storm on moving ahead in life despite adversity, holding on to hope and keeping priorities in the right place, he said.

“People reaching the point of seeing a little bit of normalcy helps a whole lot,” he said.

Jeff Hampton, 252-491-5272,


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