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SURF CITY, NC (WWAY) — As life gets back to normal for many across the Cape Fear, areas like Surf City are still knee-deep in recovery efforts.
Almost everyone is Surf City evacuated before Hurricane Florence hit and they weren’t able to return for more than a week.
When they did, many say the damage was worse than they expected.
“I’ve lived here 18 out of the last 21 years and I’ve lived through several, but this was by far the worst,” one resident said.
Every public beach access is gone. Dunes were destroyed and businesses and homes damaged, some so badly that they are unlivable.
City Spokesman Allan Libby says although homeowners were frustrated, it was necessary to keep the island closed while crews worked to restore power and sewer and remove sand from streets.
“We’re a small town with limited resources,” Libby said. “We’re doing the very best we can.”
Now, the next step is to remove waste.
“That should take about 45 days to get all the vegetative and waste out,” Libby said. “After that, they will begin sifting the sand which has been moved out of the roads to the edge of the beach. We’ll be sifting it for debris, and then starting to try and rebuild the dune.”
Libby says although October is the beginning of the off-season, the town usually sees many visitors and his heart goes out to the businesses that are suffering.
Businesses that have opened like Shaka Taco Kitchen says they are struggling in a month that usually sees quite a few visitors.
“I guess you’d say that we’re one of the few places that are still open and survived Hurricane Florence,” Manager Conner Fee said. “So it’s nice that I guess we’re still able to serve locals, but also the guys that are working on the island now.”
“We got a lot of people here that need places too stay, and our accommodations people are working with them,” Libby said. “They have to eat, and our food and beverage people are working with them as best as possible to keep them fed.”
Surf City is now open to visitors, but the island portion of the town is still under a curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Beaches remain closed, although that hasn’t stopped some. Libby says there is not yet a timeline of when beach accesses will be repaired or beaches will legally open.
He says he’s thankful that this happened at the beginning of the off season and hopes to have everything back to normal for the start of next year’s tourist season.