RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Rental houses and condos were expected to fill up Saturday on two North Carolina islands where a bridge construction accident cut power for a week and threatened seasonal businesses’ bottom lines.
The first day of the weekend is a typical starting point for weeklong rentals, and stores and restaurants were expecting brisk business. Both islands reopened to tourists Friday.
“We want everyone to know that we are open for business,” said Tommy Hutcherson, the owner of the Ocracoke Variety Store.
The business, which is the island’s only grocery store, had its own generator to keep the doors open but saw few customers during the past week.
“We’re in the height of our summer season. We’re just happy to see people back,” Hutcherson said.
Maryland resident Colleen Sax planned to start her eight-hour drive to Hatteras Island on Saturday morning for a vacation with her husband, two adult daughters and extended family. She’s relieved after nervously monitoring updates on the situation. An initial estimate that the problem would take weeks to fix was whittled each day until officials announced visitors could return Friday.
“That changed quickly. … Then it was Friday. I was like: ‘Wow!'” she said.
The kitchen staff at the Back Porch Restaurant on Ocracoke Island was busy chopping vegetables and doing other prep work ahead of a Saturday reopening. Owner Daphne Bennink said generator power allowed them to save some high-priced meat and seafood, but they had to order all new fresh produce.
She said her staff also did a deep…
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