Duck on the Edge
By Monica Thibodeau –
Village of Duck Quickly Regains Momentum after Irene –
Duck is on the edge – the edge of the water, the edge of unveiling a new town hall, the edge of a new decade as a town.
Just a few weeks after recovering from the force of Hurricane Irene, the Town of Duck has unveiled its new town buildings. November marked the completion of the 6,000 square foot administrative building and the 1,800 square foot meeting hall skirting the Town Park in the center of the village.
It was a process that began with the acquisition of the Herron’s Restaurant property in 2006, followed by a year of design input from the community. Actual construction started in October 2010. The building was designed by Tymoff and Moss Architects, strongly influenced by local historic lifesaving stations.
The two buildings create a campus approach and allow the spaces to maintain a smaller scale in relation to the surrounding park. Incorporating many LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Environmental Design) construction standards, the buildings feature geothermal heating, skylights, low energy lighting and a water cistern. Materials were selected for their sustainability. The $2.18 million project was lead by local contractor Waldt Construction.
Normal construction delays made us wait a bit for the grand opening, and then Mother Nature dealt a hard blow when Hurricane Irene roared just overhead in late August. The high winds and rain were tame compared the relentless high water of the sound, destructively pounding the shoreline. The Army Corps of Engineers reported that the storm surge from Irene was the highest recorded in the Currituck Sound since records began in 1979; at over 6 feet, it was more than double what was measured on the ocean.
The boardwalk that meanders along the sound connecting the northern end of the commercial district to the park property along the south was ripped apart in several areas. Lush, dense trees and bushes were replaced with a flat sandy beach strewn with debris. The boardwalk damage was mainly in areas that are lower or actually on the ground level, such as the section behind Duck Methodist Church and near the amphitheater. The crabbing platform was gone and the kayak launch was missing a section. The solar panels used for lighting the boardwalk that had been installed just weeks before were crushed in the storm and will need to be replaced. Fortunately, all the pilings remained intact.
Although there was much to clean up, the new municipal buildings were not affected. The main building has a concrete foundation and the meeting hall is built on low pilings, so that the buildings are on the same level and seamlessly connected by wrap around decks. Benches and rocking chairs along these covered decks will offer a place to relax and enjoy the views, connecting the interior spaces to the outdoors. Where only dense vegetation was visible from the buildings, the storm surge has taken so many trees that the meeting hall now has a sound view.
Damage in Duck from Hurricane Irene certainly does not compare to what our neighbors endured in Hatteras, but with six miles of shoreline Duck felt the pain. Several commercial properties were condemned because they either lost basic services such as electrical and plumbing, or their structures were affected. With the help of the town and state officials, these businesses were able to open up in record time and get back to servicing visitors who returned once the storm passed.
Cleanup from the storm was swift and effective, largely because of decisions that the town made as soon as after Irene passed. “I think a combination of things went into how quickly we recovered,” Chris Layton, Duck Town Manager, says. “The town council understood that there were going to be costs associated with the cleanup effort. Immediately after the storm, they authorized me to go ahead and spend the money to get it done. They were committed to cleaning up the town regardless of what FEMA would do.”
Other factors also came into play that sped the process along. “We had contracts in place for debris pick-up (before the storm),” Layton says. “After the storm passed, we ended up talking to those same contractors. It was the same contractors as the county was using. They already had people in place and it was faster for them to mobilize and get started.”
The cleanup was not limited to just the sound. There was also a huge effort along the oceanfront as well. Construction materials that broke free from a barge in Virginia washed up on the beaches – some of our only “red flags” of the year were due to debris rather that large waves or rip currents.
Duck survived the “Trifecta” of weather events this year – a tornado touched down in Duck in April, followed by some soft rumbles of the Virginia earthquake this summer, and a direct hit from Irene on August 27th. We were still able to host over 6,000 people at the 5th Annual Jazz Festival over Columbus Day.
A grand opening celebration of the Town Hall is in the works. Be sure to stop by and visit when you are in the area. Many of our shops are open and Duck is a lovely destination year round.
Monica Thibodeau, Principal Broker of Carolina Designs Realty, serves on the Town Council, and has been a resident of Duck for over 20 years.