Film at 11 | April
This month's Film at 11 is a little more heavy on words than usual. That's because the story behind these images is equally important. When you live life on a sandbar, you enjoy the unique and natural beauty of the landscape, but you also must endure the harsh realities of living on a spit of land between two large bodies of water. Highway 12 in the Outer Banks is the artery that residents and visitors rely on. In the northern beaches, like Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk, there is a busy 4-lane bypass, full of commercial businesses and the trappings of a regular suburban life. But for those who live farther north, or in this case, farther south, Highway 12 is it. It is the only way in and out. The only way to get to work. To school. To the hospital. The lifeline.
The population of the southern Outer Banks (Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke), has grown tremendously over the last several years. What was once a year-around population of just over 1,000, has swelled to over 4,000. And that is nothing compared to the summer population full of surfers and vacationers looking for a quiet respite from everyday life.
In the last year since Hurricane Sandy left her mark on the Outer Banks, Highway 12 has been closed numerous times. The ocean surges, washes across the road, and either leaves piles of sand or completely destroys the road. On Pea Island south of Oregon Inlet, Hurricane Irene washed away Highway 12 and the state determined that the best temporary solution was to construct a bridge over the new inlet that formed on the barrier island. At the S-curves in Mirlo Beach, the dunes have been breached countless times, the ocean washing across the road, cutting off all of Hatteras Island from its neighbors to the north. For the permanent residents of those towns, you can imagine the significance and the fear that comes with every hurricane or nor'easter. The sign welcoming you to Mirlo Beach says it well: Dare to Dream the Impossible Dream.
What to do about Highway 12 is a huge debate right now, not just in the Outer Banks, but at the highest levels in our state government. In fact, shortly after these images were taken, Governor McCrory declared a state of emergency for Highway 12 on Hatteras Island. It's the hope that this will help find a short term solution to the problem, while long term options are explored. Different ideas of what to do to remedy the situation include options like beach nourishment, continued maintenance of the road with sand bags and heavy equipment, building an over-the-road bridge, or bypassing the existing road entirely in favor of a long-span bridge in the sound, all have merits and costs. I'm certainly not trying to engage in a political debate, but it is my hope that these images give you a glimpse into the issues facing the local communities, as well as an appreciation for the natural beauty that abounds in the Outer Banks.
For more information on this topic and others affecting the Outer Banks, I recommend checking out The Outer Banks Voice.
This month was shot on a chilly, gray morning on Hatteras Island with a Canon Elan 7E and Portra 400.
- Storm debris still littering the roads
- Man-made dunes
- Road washed away, blocking entrance into an entire community
- Wave Breaker, aptly named and remarkably, still standing
- Salvo, NC Post Office (no longer in use)
- New inlet formed during Hurricane Irene
- Pea Island temporary bridge