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New Flood Zone Maps Offer Hope to Many Property Owners

There may be some good news for Outer Banks property owners as the new flood zone maps are finalized. According to a WUNC report, Have We Been Overestimating Flood Risk On The Outer Banks?more than 20,000 properties in Dare County will either be removed from the flood zones or find themselves in a reduced flood risk category.

At the the heart of the new ratings are mapping techniques that were unavailable when the original maps were created. Using a LIDAR (It’s not an acronym. The process is named after quantum physicist Daniel Lidar.) maps are being created that a remarkably more detailed than anything possible before this time. According to interviews conducted in the reporting, the LIDAR is 78 more times precise than the original maps.

The report did not include information about Currituck County, and the new maps that are being generated by the NC Department of Public Safety are still being developed. However, the new maps are available for viewing on their website, although specific information about rezoning areas has not yet been generated.

Not everyone will benefit from the new maps. Some areas, especially in southern Dare County may find they are in an increased risk of flood.

Outer Banks Bike Week Coming Soon

Outer Banks Bike Week is almost upon us--begins next Saturday, April 19, and runs through April 27, which is the following Sunday. Ok, that’s more like the Beatle’s song, Eight Days a Week, but organizers have been squeezing more and more into the event, so the extra day makes a lot of sense.
There are so many events happening during the week, that we can’t possibly list them all but here is just a sampling.
There’s live music every day and a wide range of music styles at multiple venues. There are at least three or four bike shows selling everything needed for a Harley (Outer Banks Harley is sponsoring it, so they get the plug.) There are a number of rides going everywhere--to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras Village to the Whalehead Club in Corolla. 
The event has been gaining popularity ever since it first came to the Outer Banks 12 years ago--in large part because it is very family oriented. Yes there are the usual biker week events that make most people cringe and think I can’t believe you’re doing that--cole slaw wrestling comes immediately to mind--but much more of this event is about the joy of riding with friends and family and the Outer Banks experience.

Hopes Dim for a Mid Currituck Bridge

The latest rankings are in, and it looks highly unlikely that the Mid Currituck Bridge will be built. A new state law Strategic Transportation Investments (STI) Law requires NCDOT to evaluate all state highway projects under an objective rating system. Using the system devised by NCDOT, the Mid Currituck Bridge comes in 178th on the list.

The bridge, conceived as a means to reduce congesttion on summer weekends, improve travel times and make evacuations faster and safer, would connect Corolla on the Outer Banks with mainland Currituck County.

The state is basing their ratings on nine criteria:

1. Benefit cost.
2. Congestion.
3. Safety.
4. Economic competitiveness. 

5. Freight.
6. Multimodal.
7. Pavement condition. 

8. Lane width.
9. Shoulder width. 

At first glance it all seems very reasonable, but--as the saying goes--”The devil is in the details.”

As an example, hurricane evacuation times are no where to be found in any of the rating categories. Hurricanes are actually not all that common on the Outer Banks, but they when they occur, evacuation becomes very important. 

One of the more important rating factors factors are commuter times. Admittedly things can get a bit difficult to navigate on the Outer Banks, but there is no way an area with a total population of 45,000-50,000 can compete with Raleigh or Charlotte. 

Commuting times are 40% of the accessibility part of the Mulitmodal rating. It’s all a bit confusing, but here is the definition for that particular piece of the rating puzzle: “Commuting times by census tracts – Points are based on the average commuting time in the census tract(s) in which the project is located.”

Essentially what this means is the rating for commuting time is skewed to favor a large population base. 

It’s all a first pass, though, from the state. The final results will not be calculated until 2015. There will be hearings and public input will be solicited. Maybe things will change.



Southern Shores Flat Top Tour This Saturday

Symbols of a less complex time on the Outer Banks, the Southern Shores flat tops are unique architectural wonders that have survived the test of time. First built in the late 1940s by Frank Stick, in partnership with his son, David, and others, the buildings are simple in design, feature local building materials and are remarkably well built.

On Saturday, Southern Shores Historic Flat Top Cottages is sponsoring a tour of 14 cottages. Beginning with a talk by Steve Gudas who formed the organization at 11:00 a.m. at the Pitt Center in Southern Shores, the tour times are 1:00-5:00 p.m.

The flat tops were conceived by Frank Stick as an inexpensive way to add value to property he was trying to sell in Southern Shores. To keep costs down, cement was created from Outer Banks sand--it’s common to see shells in the bricks--and juniper, a wood that was plentiful in northeastern North Carolina in the 1940s and 50s, was used.

At one time there were well over 100 flat tops in Southern Shores and the north end of Kitty Hawk. However, property values and the clear preference of visitors for more modern amenities have created pressures to construct larger, more modern homes and today there are far fewer of these gems left.

The tour starts at the Outer Banks Community Foundation flat top at 13 Skyline Road in Southern Shores. Tickets are $5.00.


Corolla Wild Horses-A Beautiful Glimpse of History


One of the most exciting things to do when visiting the Outer Banks is to take a trip north of the paved road in Corolla and see the Corolla Wild Horses. Unique in appearance, beautiful to see in person, they are an extraordinary reminder of the history of the region.

Genetic testing has established that they are a direct link to the Spanish Mustangs of the Conquistadors--the last descendants of the Iberian horse, a breed that is now extinct. Although no one is certain how the horses came to the Currituck Banks, the most likely explanation is they escaped from a sinking Spanish galleon sometime in the 16th century. The Spanish were the first European nation to explore coastal North Carolina.

At one time the herd was much larger, ranging across the entire Currituck Banks, but loss of habitat and collisions between horse and car have reduced the herd to around 110. The horses have been moved north of the paved section of NC 12 to protect them.

Managed by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a number of local ordinances have been put into place to protect both horse and humans.

The law requires people to remain at least 50’ from the horses. Looking at them in a peaceful setting, it may be hard to picture them as wild, but they are, and for everyone’s protection, it’s probably a good idea to keep your distance.

Do not feed them. At least one colt has died from food it could only have gotten from humans and other horses have suffered from eating food they have a difficult time digesting. 

There are a number of outfitters that provide Wild Horse Safaris--which is probably the best way to view the herd.

Dog Days of an Outer Banks Summer

It’s 6:00 a.m., the third Saturday in July, the car is packed and filled with gas and through some miraculous intervention, everyone manages to stumble to the car ready to begin their Outer Banks family vacation. Except for Max, the half beagle, half-who-knows-what who is sleeping in the local dog hotel.

Begging the question, “Is it really a family vacation if the family pet is not a part of it?”

The fact is, the family dog probably enjoys getting away as much as everyone else . . . and when it comes to the beach, there is a good possibility Max will like it even more.

The folks at Brindley Beach Vacations know that and with 136 properties in their inventory that will welcome Max, or Daisy, or Buster, families coming to the Outer Banks should be able to find a home that fits their needs--the entire family’s needs.

Brindley Beach does charge a $200 cleaning fee, but that is certainly less that it costs to board a dog for a week--often more likely eight days. A family leaving at 6:00 a.m. isn’t going to have time to stop by the kennel on their way out of town.

It’s probably not a financial decision anyway--not in the final analysis. It’s probably much more a family decision, a decision that brings the whole family to the beach.

The property management company has some great information on their website for pet owners coming to the Outer Banks, including local vets, pet stores and town leash laws.

Brindley Beach Womanless Beauty Pageant a Resounding Success

Womanless Beauties on Stage


It would be hard to find a better example of the generosity, community spirit and just plain sense of fun the Outer Banks has than the Brindley Beach Womanless Beauty Pageant.

We just had our 4th Annual on Saturday and by any standards, it was an amazing success; $90,000 was raised for charity--shattering last year’s record of $35,000 and everyone had a good time.

Here is what it’s all about. Everyone shows up at Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern to watch ten men dressed up as women--and no amount of make-up or clothing will ever make them feminine. Each contestant chooses a charity to represent. Whoever raises the most money is crowned 2014 Womanless Beauty Queen. 

This years’s winner, Richard Bruce of Pigman’s Barbecue, raised $19,000 for Beach Food Pantry--a figure that was almost doubled, because the organization had a matching grant pending.

Helping the process along was Doug Brindley who matched $1000 donations. The Food Pantry, Get Pinked, the Dare Education Foundation, Outer Banks YMCA, Project Purple and the Outer Banks S.P.C.A. all benefitted from Doug’s generosity.

The event is a bit of insanity . . . perhaps more than a bit of insanity. There’s a beauty lineup, a question and answer segment--it’s remarkable watching a father of two girls try to answer a question about the issues facing young women today. And of course, a talent portion . . . a part of the show that includes, lap dancing and pole dancing--the pole dancing in particular was actually quite good.

It’s ultimately all for a good cause and it’s all about feeling good. It’s hard to see how this year’s total will be surpassed, but we’ll find out at the 5th Annual Womanless Beauty Pageant next year.


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