These are my thoughts on the States recovery plan and new initiatives slated for Hunting Island beach as a result of the extensive damage from hurricane Matthew. Take these for what they are worth, nothing more then my humble opinion.
Recovery to Date: The only way I can describe the recovery would be Slow Motion! Hurricane Matthew hit Hunting Island the weekend of Oct 7th 2016. Today is February 19th, almost 19 weeks ago and all I have seen done is debris and trees being removed from sections of Hunting Island (Just the Campground and north beach areas). They also had the cabin on south beach removed however, that was scheduled well before the hurricane so it isn't part of the recovery efforts. They have also had a new wooden fence placed around the Lighthouse however, that was down also before the hurricane. I have photographs dated 24 September and the fence was laying down on the ground. So that also shouldn't be included in any recovery efforts.
Areas where nothing has been done are the fishing pier, the trail at the Nature Center that leads to south beach and the marsh boardwalk. I also haven't seen anything concerning the status of the lagoon on south beach. I understand that some of these are going to require major renovations, like the fishing pier however, you can't convince me that the walking trail and foot bridge to south beach cannot be cleared and open, after almost 5 Months. In my opinion, a crew of 10 guys with chainsaws could have the trail open over a weekend. Yet, no attempt at all has been made on the nature trail. One can only assume its because its not a money maker for the park, like the Campground and north beach are. Maybe thats why all of the focus is on opening these sites first.
Fact is, whenever they release any statement concerning the recovery plans on Hunting Island, they only address the campgrounds and north beach by the Lighthouse. All I have seen on other areas so far is that south beach lost 200 parking spaces from the hurricane and some plan to operate a shuttle service. (More on that below.) So to me, the priorities are solely based on park revenue and not on the low hanging fruit that would allow our beach to be opened in sections.
If I had to grade the progress of the recovery efforts on Hunting Island, right now it would be a F. I personally do not see any way the park will be open by Memorial day weekend. Time will tell I guess.
New Cabins: I don't get this plan to build additional cabins on Hunting Island that will be ran by the State and available to rent. In 10 years won't these cabins be in the ocean just like the previous 24 cabins off cabin road? Again, it leads me to believe that the only reason for this is revenue for the State.
There is one cabin remaining on Hunting Island that the State operates. Its by the lighthouse. This cabin currently or when the park is open, rents for $249.00 a night or $1743.00 per week. The waiting list is pretty far out to where they recommend you make your reservations 1 year in advance. Thats a pretty steep price if you ask me. You could stay at our best B&B in Beaufort for less money then that. Build 5 cabins on Hunting Island and they stand to generate over $450,000 per year. Pretty obvious where this idea came from.
Shuttle Service: Are you kidding me? This is the solution for losing 200 parking spaces on south beach? Think about it. Most families heading to the beach for the day have beach chairs, towels, coolers, radios and beach toys for the children. Can you imagine having to lug all of that onto a shuttle along with your kids? Then back on the shuttle when its time to leave. So many questions concerning this idea. How often will the shuttle be by to pick me up? Is it free or do I have to pay for it? Just to name a few. Overall, bad idea and if I get to the gate and they tell me I have to park and take a shuttle, I'm turning around and going home.
Again, this is all just my opinion based on the information I have received. Its ok if you disagree with me. Phil