With debris removal crews and town utilities staff going at full speed, Oak Island officials intend to end the curfew, lift the ban on short-term rentals and allow residents and visitors to return to all portions of the beach by Friday, September 4.
Town Manager David Kelly warned that parking would be limited during the Labor Day weekend because the town has used street ends and some beach access areas to store sand that will later be sifted and returned to the beach.
“Our goal is to have at least every third access area open,” Kelly said, adding that there are 67 beach access areas. Places such as the boat ramps at Blue Water Point will likely open, but with posted warnings to use caution since the floating docks were destroyed.
Crews have eliminated more than 2,300 instances of hanging or leaning limbs and are now concentrating on gather piles of vegetative debris. Kelly said he believed the workers had removed about 15,000 of the estimated 40,000 cubic yards of vegetative debris. That material is being stockpiled at the town’s Public Works site off Airport Road before being hauled to the disposal site.
The contractors erected silt fences and made temporary driveways Monday for a construction and demolition debris storage site off East Dolphin Drive just east of the Elks Lodge. Kelly said collection of the debris is expected to begin any day and should take 28 days.
The contractor will not pick up construction debris on Sunday or Labor Day, although residents can expect to see crews gathering vegetative debris daily until the job is finished.
It might take two separate passes to get all the materials, Kelly said.
The town has solicited bids from contractors to perform a sand push in some of the hardest-hit areas. The work calls for moving one foot of sand from the low water line to the former dune line, after a daily inspection for sea turtle nests or sea turtle activity. Officials expect to open the bids on Tuesday, September 8, in time for Town Council to consider the proposal at its regular 6 p.m. meeting.
The town has lifted the ban on moving sand across the entire island, although a Coastal Area Management Act permit is still required. Sand should not be placed over utilities or in the right of way. With a permit, sand may be moved to:
Second Place West; Fifth Place West; Seventh Place West; 10th Place West; 13th Place West; 17th Place West; 23rd Place West; 37th Place East; 32nd Place East; 26th Place East; 22nd Place East; 19th Place East; 14th Place East; Ninth Place East; Sixth Place East; SE 52nd Place beach access; and SE 49th St (the old Ocean Education Center parking lot).
Kelly said he’d still heard no decision on whether the hurricane damages would be declared a federal and state disaster, which would allow the town to recoup at least some of its expenses.
The cleanup contractors and inspector are expected to cost $1.7-million to $1.9-million, he said.
About 75 homes still need electric or plumbing repairs before full service can resume, Kelly said.
“We’re coming along,” Kelly said. “We’re probably at about 60-percent of what we can do.”