Big changes at NC beaches as some visitors return despite stay-home order

North Carolina news

EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WNCN) — Work is continuing to restore areas of the Crystal Coast after Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Dorian, and now COVID-19 have left their mark on coastal communities.

Statewide stay-at-home orders are still in effect until May 8, but judging by the traffic on the bridge to Emerald Isle you would never know it.

Those returning to the island are finding it much different than they left it.

Boardwalk RV Park was one of the hardest-hit areas after a tornado struck the area during Hurricane Dorian.

Seven months later signs of the destruction remain, but they’ve largely been replaced by new construction.

“The town is 100 percent cleaned up and repaired from Dorian,” said Emerald Isle town manager Matt Zapp. “This is a direct result of the heroic efforts of so many. We are thankful for our property owners, neighboring communities that rallied to help Emerald Isle, local businesses, FEMA, and the State.”

After years of erosion, the tides have turned along the beach strand. Renourishment is ongoing for the first time since 2013 as sunbathers sit just a few yards away.

Roughly a third of the cost for the nearly $29 million project is being paid by the state while FEMA is chipping in $6.7 million to add another 1.9 million cubic yards of sand to the beach strand.

Phase two of the beach nourishment project is expected to be finished by April 30.

Both Carteret County and Emerald Isle town leaders are asking non-residents not to visit until the stay at home order is lifted.

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