Oak Island set to reopen on Friday, some residents and workers concerned
OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) — In the latest amendment to the town’s state of emergency, Oak Island will remove the checkpoints and curfew no later than 6AM on Friday and short term rentals may resume at noon on the same day.
While some may be ready to get up and running, others are concerned about reopening too soon.
“My main concern is the safety,” a resident said. “The safety of the residents, renters and the people working on it, contractors.”
One resident who chose to remain anonymous, says it’s unsafe for unnecessary visitors to be on the island right now because of debris, workers moving sand and many homes still in disrepair.
“We did miss a lot with COVID and again we’ve missed another month now from the hurricane, but I kinda feel safety should be first,” they said.
A worker on the island agrees, saying safety is his main concern and it’s mostly because of traffic.
“You can see the trucks roll back and forth all day long, we’ve got full time residents down here that are trying to get home,” Stacy’s Home Improvement Superintendent Bruce Felker said. “There’s piles of trash that make it hard when you pull out into the street, obstructing the view.”
Felker says he’s not so concerned with vacationers, but rather locals who are curious about the damage.
“We’ve almost been hit twice today and three or four times yesterday because people are looking at the trash and the houses and they’re not paying attention to the equipment that’s on the road,” he said.
Felker says he knows businesses and renters need to get back to work, so he’s not sure what the answer is in this situation.
Oak Island Mayor Ken Thomas responded to some of the concerns.
He says he does not advise day-trippers to visit the island. They will not be turned away, but they won’t have parking due to large sand piles in the public parking areas. Those coming to the island should avoid areas where work is being done.
Thomas says not reopening would be like giving up and it’s time to move forward so businesses and renters can begin to recoup their losses.
As for the debris and sand, Thomas says debris removal started today and should be finished by the end of the month.
They are unable to do much with the sand until after November 15 because of sea turtle season.
Thomas says they are working to get a permit for a berm to help protect the island against future storms.