WASHINGTON -- The familiar lighthouse is still standing after
taking the best Hurricane Isabel could throw at it. And the same
was true for the rest of Cape Hatteras and the 137 miles of
coastline that comprise North Carolina's Outer Banks, where locals
were busy cleaning up after the worse hurricane to hit the area in
"There is a lot of damage," said Carolyn McCormick, managing
director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, although Roanoke
Island and Duck escaped with relatively minimal damage.
Officials were expecting to reopen the northern beaches Sept.
"We know we've lost some 236 rooms," McCormick said. Of that, at
least 200 were in the Cape Hatteras area.
"There are a number of rooms, about 400, that are in question
about whether or not they will be opened by the 17th," McCormick
said, noting the region has some 3,196 rooms in all.
The 17th refers to December 17, the 100th anniversary of the
Wright Brothers historic first flight. That flight took place in
the Outer Banks at Kitty Hawk. The area intends to stage a large
celebration commemorating the first flight centennial.
"We are feeling pretty darn good that [the damaged hotels] will
be open prior to that 100th anniversary celebration of flight,"
McCormick said. "We have some rooms that are out of commission
today [because of water damage] but will be back in a couple of
About seven percent of the area's vacation rental homes, mostly
in Cape Hatteras, were lost to Isabel, McCormick said.
But just as Isabel reclaimed some beach area, it also returned
some treasures lost years ago to the sea. For instance, the
churning surf and high winds resurrected an old shipwreck and
deposited it on the beach in Hatteras.
"Storms are one of the characteristic that make us what we are,"
McCormick said. "This time we have more damage because we have more
But McCormick promised the Outer Banks would be back, better
Tourism in the Outer Banks is "a $600 million industry,"
McCormick said. "Anybody that lives in the Outer Banks of North
Carolina is directly touched by the tourism industry. So we quickly
want to come back on line because this is our livelihood."
To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].