September 29, 2003
Tom MacKenzie, (USFWS-Atlanta) 404-679-7291 c: 678-296-6400
Fish & Wildlife Service Southeast Region is hard at work
restoring access to National
Wildlife Refuges and the Edenton
National Fish Hatchery in North Carolina following Hurricane
Isabel. Many refuges currently remain closed to public use due to the
thousands of trees blown down by 100 mph winds across the roads and
to have most of the major roads cleared within one or two weeks,”
said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director. “There are
going to be significant challenges ahead, but we are getting the big
stuff off the access roads and buildings as quickly and safely as we
Hamilton went on
to say there will be much larger projects ahead requiring backfilling
of damaged dikes, piers, docks and road repairs, and significant work
to repair recently built walkways for visitors accessibility to the
unique habitats of North Carolina.
red wolf in the captive breeding program at Sandy Ridge Captive Wolf
Breeding Facility at Alligator
River National Wildlife Refuge was killed by a falling tree
on its’ enclosure. Two others escaped their pen but have been
repair estimates reach nearly $22 million to roads, buildings and other
infrastructure. These figures may rise or fall when more detailed inspections
can be conducted as flood waters recede and trees are removed from roads
and canals. Many roads are still blocked by trees at the following locations:
Mattamuskeet, Alligator River and Pocosin Lakes and Roanoke
River National Wildlife Refuges and the Edenton National
Fish Hatchery. Teams of qualified firefighters skilled with chain saws
and debris clearing experts of the Service from several states are using
specialized equipment to clear roads and restore and repair facilities.
even had a chance to look at the damage to many vehicles yet,”
said Hamilton. “The refuge staff moved most equipment to safe
areas prior to the storm, but some of the gear needed to stay close
to be in position to respond. Unfortunately, some equipment has been
hit by trees and more may be damaged by saltwater flooding.”
Additional Law Enforcement
officers are helping insure public safety at the refuges. A tractor
trailer loaded with supplies, rations, bottled water and generators
has been staged to help get the facilities back on their feet. More
than 30 emergency responders skilled at chainsawing and clearing debris,
as well as pilots and operators of dumptrucks, chippers, dozers, and
other specialized equipment volunteered to help their fellow refuges
and the fish hatchery recover. They come from Florida, Georgia, South
Carolina and Puerto Rico.
across affected area as of Sep 29, 2003:
Response and cleanup ( $2.2 million) 30 emergency responders,
dozer operators, pilots with equipment from three states and the Commonwealth
of Puerto Rico deployed to support the 70 Service employees in the
River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) ( $5.5 million in damages):
Closed. Trees are down across the refuge, blocking most refuge roads,
with approximately 30 miles having moderate to heavy downfall. Many
canals have trees across them as well. The East Lake Maintenance Facility
sustained damage and the helibase support building was completely
destroyed. The Sandy Ridge Captive Wolf Breeding Facility wolf pens
were severely damaged. One red wolf was killed by a falling tree and
two others escaped the enclosure. Both were recaptured. The Manteo
Office building roof received minor wind damage. Water control structures
have been blocked or damaged across the refuge due to flooding. Forest
health will have to be closely monitored to determine long term effects
of salt water flooding and spray. An eight person chainsaw and equipment
task force from other Southeastern Refuges is helping refuge staff
clear 54 miles of road clearing (so far). Buffalo City Road, Milltail
Road were reopened and work is progressing on Koehring Road. Power,
phone lines and finally today, the Internet cables have been restored
at the Manteo Office. The East Lake Maintenance Facility continues
to be out of power and remains dependent on a generator.
( $3.9 million in damages): Now open to the public. The Office and
Educational Facility at Columbia received minor damage. The boardwalk
was heavily damaged in places. Three refuge buildings were flooded
at Lake Phelps from the storm surge. Wind and tree damage to the roofs
of these buildings has been assessed and require substantial repair
work. Heavy tree damage occurred across the refuge with 40 miles of
road. Heavy debris is clogging water control structures around the
Refuge. A ten-person chainsaw and equipment operation task force continues
helping refuge staff clear roads. The Office and Educational Facility
have power restored, as has the Fire Control Office at Pungo. Refuge
staff are pulling out carpets and appliances as well as repairing
roofs at the Field Station and residence. The field station is being
evaluated to determine if it is repairable.
NWR ( $2.9 million in damages): Limited access to public.
Trees are down across the refuge, blocking most refuge roads. Roof
damage was found on two buildings at the Refuge headquarters. Substantial
damage was done to the Refuge water control structures, pumping stations
and impoundments. Mattamuskeet is using two two-person chainsaw teams
from other Southeastern Region Refuges to help cutting and clearing
trees off of refuge roads. Cleanup continues at the office facility
and across the refuge roads. The Mattamuskeet Office and maintenance
shop both have power and phones.
NWR ($2.6 million in damages): Closed. Significant damage
to the Bell Island Pier, bulkheading, and parking area from the wave
action of the storm surge. The pier is damaged but appears repairable.
Local resident’s boats were seen in the middle of corn fields.
Thousands of acres of unharvested crops have been ruined by brackish
Island NWR ( $2.5 million in damages): Closed. The Pea Island
office and maintenance facility buildings sustained minor damage.
No flooding was experienced in the buildings, but sand was blown in
requiring heavy cleanup. Two pump houses and one pole barn that were
heavily damaged, with the pole shed likely needing replacement. Bulkheading
was washed out on the north end of South Pond impoundment. Possible
damage to water control structures. North Carolina Department of Transportation
continues to repair the damages done to the barrier dunes system and
dig out the sand on the four miles of overwash that occurred on NC-12
on the refuge. The highway has been re-opened to one lane of traffic
yesterday and remains this way today.
( $1.1 million in damages): Closed. Significant wind damage occurred
at the Roanoke River Office and Maintenance Facility, especially to
roofs. The shop building lost its roof, and the office roof was damaged.
A 30 foot travel trailer was torn loose from its moorings and overturned.
On the Refuge, the worst forest damage occurred along the Highway
17 corridor and the primary river channels where the wind toppled
a significant percentage of trees. The shop facility roof has been
determined to be too unstable to repair and will need significant
contractor support to repair the building. The office facility has
generator power. If Roanoke NWR does not get flooded again by the
additional rainfall, it will be at least 7 days before chain saw crews
will have access to the primary refuge road.
( $300K in damages) Open to the public. Some structural damage to
buildings and facilities.
( $780K in damages): Open to the public. Storm cleanup continues at
Mackay Island. 10 miles of roads damaged. Structural damage to buildings
National Fish Hatchery ( $750K to $1Million in damages) Hurricane
Isabel knocked down trees around and onto the hatchery, and electricity
was out for six days. Power has now been restored to the hatchery.
Hatchery operations and equipment are dependent upon electrical power
for operation. The generators are being staged there to resume operations
if power fails again. The generators powered large pumps used to oxygenate
the ponds when dissolved oxygen reached critical levels early Friday
morning in some of the ponds. A chainsaw and hand crew of 21 from
the North Carolina Forest Service and Southeast refuges were able
to complete about 75% of the cutting needed at the facility. To date,
no significant fish kill has occurred, as happened following the Hurricane
( $50K in damages): Open to public. Damage assessment is showing that
Cedar Island appears to have gotten by with minimal damage to Refuge
infrastructure and resources. Minor windthrow of trees reported across
the refuge. No flooding at the office or Maintenance facility. A large
amount of debris is washed up on Refuge lands from surrounding marsh
and islands. The communities of Atlantic and Cedar Island received
a substantial amount of flood damage. Forest health will have to be
closely monitored to determine long term effects of salt water flooding
The U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving,
protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats
for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages
the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses
542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other
special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries,
64 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services field stations.
The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered
Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally
significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such
as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts.
It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of
millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment
to state fish and wildlife agencies.
Gallery of Hurricane Isabel