NC island where Isaias made landfall attracts sightseers; residents seek privacy

North Carolina news

OCEAN ISLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) – Many families are trying to pick up the pieces following Hurricane Isaias and multiple house fires this week.

Their homes are in shambles and now people are parking in their driveways, getting onto their balconies and walking through their yards, just to get a better look at the damage.

Neighbors describe it as an interstate, a highway and now one of the busiest roads in Ocean Isle Beach. Since Hurricane Isaias and multiple fires have left plenty of visuals, neighbors say non-residents can’t get enough.

”We can tell the people that are stopping, looking,” said Ashley Fox, a resident of the island. “You can see people pull over, go under houses and go on properties that you know are not theirs.”

Property owners have had problems with trespassers — visitors who want to get a good look at the damage but are using extreme measures just to take a good picture. That makes it a tougher time for residents.

Fox says this is a time of grievance and recovery for everybody in the area and all they’re asking for is a little respect and privacy.

“We make as much room as possible to allow the important people to come in — trash collection, contractors, people really here to help us,” said Fox. “There’s not room for people who are looking to take advantage of us right now.”

Ocean Isle Mayor Debbie Smith said she’s aware of the trespassing issue and she’s doing what she can to make sure residents have their space. The far east end of the island is blocked off by sheriff’s deputies. They’re only allowing homeowners and contractors access.

“I think it is important. These people have suffered a lot; they have in many cases…have lost a lot and I think we as the public need to respect that,” said Smith. “Now it takes a lot of gall for someone to walk up where houses are occupied.”

To the outside world, this week has just been a hurricane and a couple of fires, but to the residents of Ocean Isle Beach, it’s been friends and neighbors losing everything and not knowing what comes next.

Neighbors say they hope they can return to the resort community they once were but for now they are asking for time and space to pick up the pieces. The area just simply can’t afford any unnecessary traffic, they said.

Smith said folks can still go on the beach and have a relaxing time, but for now she asks that anybody who doesn’t live in the area should respect residents’ privacy and allow neighbors to recover and rebuild in peace.

Copyright 2020 WECT. All rights reserved.

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