CAROLINA BEACH — While New Hanover County beaches were spared the worst of Hurricane Matthew’s wrath in October, many returning to Carolina Beach immediately after the storm experienced long waits. The town of Carolina Beach is looking to prevent such delays in the event of future evacuations.
Part of the issue is Carolina Beach’s identification decals. The decals, which identify town residents, are only affixed to vehicles. This meant that some people returning in other vehicles – driven by a friend, a cab or ride-share vehicle – did not have identification. The town’s new program issues “town identification cards” that will “expedite re-entry to Carolina Beach once a mandatory evacuation order has been lifted.”
Michael Cramer, Carolina Beach town manager, told Port City Daily, “The idea behind this program was to make sure that if there was a situation where we issued an evacuation, residents could identify themselves quickly and easily, get back to the island, and back to their lives.”
Cramer said that there has not been a mandatory evacuation in a long time.
“I think it was Hurricane Ophelia, before my time,” he said. “But when it did happen, there was a line of traffic from Snow’s Cut Bridge all the way back to Monkey Junction. Obviously we’re looking to avoid that.”
Carolina Beach will be mailing the new cards to property owners with mailing addresses in the town. No application is necessary for the cards, which will be free and mailed out the first two weeks of January. Property owners with mailing addresses elsewhere, as well as renters, tenants, business owners and authorized agents will need to complete a simple form available on the town’s website.
Cramer said, “anyone who rents or runs a business on the island will be able to get a card. For business owners employing people on the mainland, they’ll be able to get cards for their employees.”
Carolina Beach plans to issue the cards annually, providing them free of cost between Jan. 3 and Feb. 15. After that, there town will change or a incremental scale: $5 until March 15 and $15 after. Replacements will cost $5 for the first new card, $10 for the second.