Outer Banks

Dare County brought in a record amount of occupancy taxes in 2012 while a record number of sea turtles nested on Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  Numbers from the Outer Banks Visitors' Bureau show Dare County collected $382 million in occupancy taxes through November of 2012 compared to $367 million during the same period the year before.  The county levies the tax on hotels, motels and beach houses.  At the same time, park rangers reported a record 222 sea turtle nests in 2012. 

Boat builders on the Outer Banks say they're losing millions of dollars worth of business as the Oregon Inlet remains closed. The water there has been too shallow to allow vessels through since November. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it can not afford the $17 million it needs to dredge the inlet. Some business owners told Dare County Commissioners this week they might relocate if the inlet remains impassible. John Bayliss owns a boat building company in Wanchese.

Pop-Up Music Club: Tshombe Selby

Dec 8, 2012
Bryan Blake

This weekend and next, we’re trying something new here at WUNC. We’re calling it the Pop-Up Music Club. It’s a kind of mobile performance adventure, where we hit the road to hear from working North Carolina musicians — up-close and in their element.

We’ll hear them play impromptu gigs on their home turf. We’ll hear the stories they tell in church, and at the bar. And we’ll hear how the culture of the places they call home shapes their music.

Pop-Up Music Club: Tshombe Selby

Dec 8, 2012
Bryan Blake

Highway 12

Dec 6, 2012
Highway 12 wash out
Western Carolina University

In the past two years alone, it has cost the state and federal governments more than $22 million to repair Highway 12. The iconic road on North Carolina's Outer Banks is a lifeline for permanent residents and an economic boon to the region and the state during tourism season. But the shifting sands of the barrier islands may make a permanent road impossible in the near future.

North Carolina Department of Transportation officials will find out this morning if the Nor'easter that skirted the Outer Banks yesterday added to the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. NC 12 was washed out in several places and covered with sand in others. There was also damage to the tension cables on Bonner Bridge. Dara Demi works for the DOT. She says repairs could take several weeks.

Department of Transportation officials want coastal residents to be aware that the rainy, windy weather could delay the ferry from Ocracoke Island to Hatteras Island. The Army Corps of Engineers dredged Hatteras Inlet back in May. But DOT spokeswoman Lucy Wallace says shoaling in Hatteras Inlet means it will have to be dredged again. In the meantime, she says passengers should keep an eye on the ferry schedule.

North Carolina Department of Transportation officials are working on permanent fixes for last year's damage from Hurricane Irene on the Outer Banks. Two breaches along Highway 12 are covered with temporary bridges. Beth Smyre is a planning engineer with the DOT. She says permanent spans will be higher and longer than the temporary structures.

The Army Corps of Engineers says it will begin dredging the Hatteras Inlet channel on Saturday, and not a moment too soon for ferry passengers. Service on the Hatteras-Ocracoke route has been suspended several times since the weekend. Lucy Wallace is with the North Carolina Ferry Division.

Scientists are getting a better understanding of storm erosion on the Outer Banks. New technology developed by the Army Corps of Engineers is illuminating why storms damage certain spots and not others. Jesse McNinch is Director of the Corps' Field Research Facility in Duck.

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