Power outages and problems with the Herbert C. Bonner bridge over Oregon Inlet are nothing new to us on the Outer Banks. Here are three previous issues which you may or may not have heard about:
- April, 1978: The Bonner bridge sinks 11 inches, causing a visible and worrisome dip in the bridge's roadway. The bridge is closed to all traffic.
- June, 1983??: I may have the date wrong, but power to Hatteras and Ocracoke is suddenly cut off. It takes a while, but eventually the electric company discovers that the transmission cable suspended from the underside of the bridge has been damaged by a shot from a hunter's weapon. I don't think the authorities ever solved the mystery of how or why that happened. Power was off for several days.
- October 23, 1990: A dredge breaks loose and rams the bridge taking out a large section of the roadway. Remarkably, no one is injured or drives into the chasm. A huge traffic jam develops on Ocracoke as thousands of people trying to leave Hatteras Island are forced to drive south to take the Cedar Island or Swan Quarter ferries to the mainland. Ocracoke businesses and residents come to the aid of stranded motorists, providing sandwiches and water as well as lodging for families with small children and the elderly.
Today islanders are coping the best we can, hoping for a quick repair of the damaged cable. As you can imagine, the biggest impact of this disaster is a major loss of revenue. The latest unofficial word is that repairs may take up to two weeks, maybe more. Because Ocracoke relies on seasonal business, the consequences can be devastating. As a rough estimate, a day's worth of business in June, July, or August is equivalent to about a week's income from a non-seasonal business.
Click here for a recent update from Tideland EMC: http://tidelandemc.com/news_flashes/14.
This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a contemporary account of the December 24, 1899 wreck of the Steamship Ariosto. You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072117.htm.