Help Rebuild the Dunes with your Christmas Tree

rebuilding the dunes after storms

If you’ve been looking for a way to help save the dunes, especially after Hurricane Florence, we’ve got a simple and easy tip – help rebuild the dunes with your Christmas tree!

Help Rebuild the Dunes with your Christmas Tree

sand dunes, rebuilding the sand dunes

Still Battling Back from Hurricane Florence

There’s no hiding the fact that the last quarter of 2018 was a whirlwind for thousands of people along the Crystal Coast of North Carolina. If we all learned a lesson since Hurricane Florence, it’s how truly incredible of a community we live in. Neighbors pitched in to clean their communities, volunteers stocked and distributed household goods for those in need, and town governments got right to work hauling away debris. It’s safe to say that we’re coming into 2019 with a much stronger and resilient sense of community than ever before.

Beach Dunes Never Breached

With all that being said, the beach is still the major factor in driving tourism traffic to our coast. Even with the significant storm surge and winds, there was no reported breaching of the dunes. They did their job and stood tall to protect our properties, homes, and local businesses. It’s clear now more than ever that it’s time to rebuild these sand dunes back up to the point they were in prior to the storm. Believe it or not, but donating your Christmas tree is an excellent opportunity for you to help restore our shoreline. When left on the beach, Christmas Trees take almost an entire year to decay. Winds coming off the ocean transport blow sand up the beach, which can become caught in the branches of the trees. Hopefully, by the time the trees are decomposed, they will be buried in migrated sand, thus expanding and strengthening our sand dunes.

What You Can Do To Help Rebuild The Dunes

christmas trees used to help rebuild the dunes

Atlantic Beach Residents –

The AB Public Works Department will be picking up Christmas Trees for Dune Restoration from now until Monday, January 14th. Simply place your Christmas Trees out on your curb and they will come by to pick them up and use them to re-nourish the dunes.

Emerald Isle Residents –

Oceanfront homeowners and residents are permitted to place trees along their dunes to promote sand accretion and are welcome to do the same with any collected from their neighbors. The town asks that you please be careful to not impede on Public Access Points and vehicular accesses on the beach strand.

Other Residents –

The Bogue Banks Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation will be collecting trees at the Eastern Ocean Regional Beach Access (2701 Emerald Drive) up until Friday, January 11th. The group will distribute the trees along the dunes areas most affected by the Hurricane. If you’re unable to bring your tree to the location- send them a message on Facebook and they may be able to come out and pick it up for you.

We Appreciate You Doing Your Part to Help Rebuild the Dunes

Thank you for your help in restoring our shoreline. There are bids out for dredging and re-nourishing the entire beach within the next two years, so with your assistance, we should continue to enjoy a wide and beautiful beach strand for many years to come.

Ocean Safety F.A.Q’s

Ocean Safety- Frequently Asked Questions

These questions and answers were provided by the Emerald Isle Fire Department, who staffs the Lifeguard program throughout the town.

1. How do I know what beach conditions are for Emerald Isle?

  • First, you should know that Emerald Isle is ALWAYS at a minimum level of yellow flags. Emerald Isle NEVER flies green flags because we believe that there are always inherent dangers when entering the ocean and you should always use caution. If you want to check to see what current conditions are, CLICK HERE.

2. What do the different colored flags mean?

  • GREEN flags indicate that conditions are safe. The Town of Emerald Isle does not fly green flags, as we believe that there are always inherent dangers when swimming in the ocean, therefore it is never completely safe and you should always use caution.
  • YELLOW flags indicate moderate hazards, and that the public should use caution in the ocean. In Emerald Isle, even the calmest of days on the beach can pose an inherent risk when entering the ocean and the public is always advised to use caution.
  • RED flags indicate that there is a high risk of strong currents or other hazards and the public is advised to stay out of the water.
  • DOUBLE RED flags indicate that there is an extremely high risk of strong currents or other hazards and the Town Manager has enacted a prohibition on swimming for our beaches under the authority granted by Town Ordinance Chapter 5 Section 5-25. You can be fined or arrested if you go in the water.
  • PURPLE flags indicate an abundance of potentially hazardous marine life in the vicinity, including Portuguese man-o-war, jellyfish, and other creatures. The town will fly these flags as needed in specific locations, however, the use of PURPLE FLAGS is relatively rare.

3. What if I don’t see a flag from where I am on the beach?

  • Flags are only posted on the beach strand from Memorial Day to Labor Day (during the time when we have
    lifeguards). If you don’t see a flag from where you are on the beach, you should know that the Town of Emerald Isle is NEVER under green flag conditions. So, if you don’t see a flag where you are on the beach then you should check with the Emerald Isle Fire Department or the town website to determine our current beach conditions.

4. Why doesn’t the town post flags along the beach all the time and year round? 

  • The only time you will see flags posted along the beach are during the months we have lifeguards patrolling the beach (Memorial Day to Labor Day), and then only when we are under red flag or double red flag conditions.

5. Why is the town reporting conditions that are different from what the National Weather Service is reporting?

  • NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) gathers information for their reports from weather buoys positioned 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina. Emerald Isle town staff evaluate our beach conditions daily and communicate this data to NOAA to
    get the best forecast information possible to provide the public. Most of the time, the conditions we are reporting in Emerald Isle are consistent with the forecast advisories posted by NOAA for all the beaches in our area. However, there are times when the conditions we are experiencing in Emerald Isle may be more severe than what is being reported by NOAA equipment or being experienced by other beaches in our area. In that situation, our flag conditions may be different from the NOAA forecast or even the flags flown in Atlantic Beach. Please know when that happens, it is because we are reporting the most accurate information possible for Emerald Isle to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors.

6. Can’t you get the rental companies to put information in their rental packets for people warning them about the dangers?

  • The town works very closely with all of the major rental companies to get information out to visitors and guests to promote safety in the Town. The rental companies are very proactive in supplying safety information produced by the Town for their guests by putting them in their rental packets, as well as posting information in all of their rental units. This information explains the flags system, rip current information, beach rules and regulations and even has information about nesting sea turtles.

7. Why doesn’t the town position Jet Ski’s on the beach strand?

  • Town staff are constantly working to improve and perfect our response to all concerns in the town. Over many years of testing different approaches, we have found that the quickest response in these situations is achieved by traveling over the roadways to the closest access rather than trying to work our way through hundreds or thousands of people along a crowded beach. Our goal is to get there as quickly as possible to have the greatest chances of conducting a successful rescue.

8. Why doesn’t the town buy speed boats to put along the coastline to perform rescues?

  • The surf conditions, geographical conditions and even weather conditions have molded our rescue practices over the years and we believe that we are currently using the most effective methods for our conditions along our shoreline. Waves and surf conditions along our shoreline make using a boat a dangerous option for rescue situations.

9. What steps is the town taking to educate people on the dangers posed by these conditions?

  • Each department in the town works very hard to get information out to our residents and guests and educate them on the dangers and hazards present in the ocean. Town staff hosts educational programs on beach safety, rip current dangers, and other hazards multiple times per month in an effort to educate beachgoers. The Fire Department is conducting public education classes for schools, locals and visitors specifically focused on water safety. These events are publicized on the Town’s website and other social media platforms. Police and lifeguards patrolling the beach hand out flyers with the flag warnings, rip current information and beach rules and regulations. Beach Patrol units stop and have conversations with hundreds of beachgoers every day when they see someone doing something that may be dangerous, hazardous or illegal to try and keep our beaches and the public safe. The Fire Department presents multiple annual educational classes to the public and administers the lifeguard program for the
    town which includes over 70 hours of training, certifications and testing for each lifeguard. They also monitor beach conditions and administer the flag warning program for our entire town. Town staff constantly evaluate local conditions and communicate and coordinate with NOAA and other agencies to provide the most current information on conditions and warnings present for our residents and guests. We are constantly updating these conditions and posting warnings or information on our digital media platforms (Facebook, town website, text message alerts, etc…) to give residents the information they need to make good decisions. In emergency situations, we frequently put information out to the public through PSA’s, Code
    Red notifications, PA broadcasts along the beach  strand, text messages, alerts and other methods of communication. The town produces thousands of flyers, signs, magnets, newsletters and other informational sources annually to provide to residents and post around town to ensure that the information is available to our residents and guests. Our Parks and Recreation department hands out drink koozies with flag and rip current information to every person that pays to park at one of our public beach accesses. They also provide and upkeep 100 rescue buoys along the beach strand for the public to assist swimmers in trouble if they choose to. Our lifeguards at the East and West Regional Ocean Accesses also have life jackets available for toddlers and children to use that want to borrow them for the day. These are just some of the ways the town employee’s work with local businesses and with the public to try and ensure the safety and security of all our residents and visitors.

10. What can I do if I see someone in trouble?

  • Call 911 before you do anything else! Getting rescue personnel on the way should be the first priority.
  • If you believe that you are an exceptionally good swimmer and are willing to provide assistance, you can grab a flotation device and go in to help if you choose to. NEVER ENTER THE WATER TO CONDUCT A RESCUE WITHOUT  A FLOTATION DEVICE! There are 100 rescue buoys stationed on poles along the beach strand that have been provided by the town to assist those that choose to help in these situations.
  • Swim close enough to the person so that you can toss them the flotation device, but not so close that they can grab you or you will become their flotation device. Talk to them and try to keep them calm until help arrives.

11. When do the lifeguard’s start patrolling the beach?

  • Lifeguards must be United States Lifeguard Association (USLA) certified in order to serve on our beaches. The majority of lifeguards that apply are full-time college students who must complete a 74 hour training process before they can begin working. They cannot begin that process until the spring semester has ended. The earliest that we have been able to get this process completed and the lifeguards working is the week before Memorial Day each year. Our lifeguard program runs from approximately May 20th through September (Labor Day) every year. Stationary lifeguards are located at both the East and West Regional Ocean Accesses and up to 4 roving lifeguards are patrolling the beach strand on a daily basis.

12. Why doesn’t the town have lifeguards year round?

  • In order to have a program that would meet USLA standards, the town would have to post as many as 57 lifeguards on the beach strand daily. This endeavor would be cost prohibitive to the Town and is not practical or prudent even if we could get the requisite number of lifeguards, especially outside of our busy tourist season. The vast majority of our water rescue calls, take place during the months of May through September (tourist season) when people who are not necessarily familiar with the hazards associated with the ocean currents are visiting our beaches. This is the time when our program is active and while we have experienced tragic situations, the program has been extremely successful in completing hundreds of water rescues annually. For example, in 2018, Emerald Isle Lifeguards successfully rescued over 105 people in just 11 days.

13. What other methods has the Town tried to improve rescue operations?

  • Over the years we have tried many different methods to improve our rescue capabilities. We have tested motorized surfboards, used zodiac boats, tested devices that shoot ropes or flotation devices, and even tested drones to drop flotation devices. The current methods that we use are the ones that are consistently successful, reliable and effective for the conditions that we have along our beach, but we are also constantly on the lookout for the latest and greatest rescue aids, equipment or methods that will help us provide the very best assistance we can to those that visit our beaches.

14. Why doesn’t the Town put warnings on the big signs at the bridge? 

  • The digital signs you see when you come across the bridge belong to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, not the Town. We have had many conversations with the NCDOT about using the signs when we have dangerous surf conditions along our beaches to
    warn beachgoers. Our requests have been denied by NCDOT due to regulations that restrict the use of those signs to traffic related messages only. To ensure that we are doing all we can to get the word out, the town uses our own portable message signs to inform people coming across the bridge when we have unusually rough beach conditions, and especially when the beach is under double red flag conditions.

15. What can I do to be safe?

  • Use common sense and take personal responsibility. Check beach conditions before you go out and know what the warning flags mean. If the water looks rough, don’t go in.
  • Obey the warning flags, even if you are an Olympic class swimmer! When we have to stop to address the dangers you are putting yourself in, you are taking our attention away from someone else that may need our help.
  • NEVER ALLOW ANY CHILD TO GO UNATTENDED IN THE WATER! If you are more than a foot away, you are too far away from a child. Ocean currents can be extremely strong and can sweep adults off their feet in knee deep water. Children should always be in a Coast Guard Approved flotation device when in the ocean.
  • Don’t assume that the calmest water is the safest place to swim. The area where you don’t see waves breaking is usually where a rip current is located. If you are unsure about the conditions, ask someone!
  • NEVER SWIM ALONE! Always swim with a flotation device.
  • Marine Life Typical feeding times are at sunrise and sunset, it is not recommended to be in the water at these times. While certain marine life feeds at different times of the day, if you notice a school of fish jumping in the water then a marine predator may be nearby.
  • On calm days where the water appears flat attempt to shuffle your feet while entering the water. We experience an increase of stingray incidents when the ocean becomes flat. Calm waters allow stingrays to settle close to shore, by shuffling your feet when entering the water this disturbs the stingrays and they move away.
  • Emerald Isle on many occasions experiences Portuguese Man-O-War jellyfish along our beach strand. This is due in part to our southern facing beach and our prevailing SW winds. Portuguese Man-O-War looks like blue/purple balloons floating on the surface of the water, their tentacles can reach up to 50′ long. They are wind-driven and can sting both in and out of the water.

16. What if I do get caught in a Rip Current?

  • REMAIN CALM! This is the most important thing you can do. Many drownings that are attributed to rip currents every year are actually caused by a person exhausting themselves fighting against the current and going into cardiac arrest.
  • Let the current take you to the release point. Most rip currents will only take you out a few hundred yards. Relax and float until it releases you and then swim parallel to the shore line. The waves will bring you back in.
  • Waive your arms above your head and yell for help. Someone will see you and call for help. If you are able to swim back towards the shore, do it without exhausting yourself.

Atlantic Beach – Hurricane Relief Workshop

If you missed our first Hurricane Relief Roundtable or are still looking for help fixing your home from storm damage…

We are very excited to be hosting a hassle-free round table session in Atlantic Beach. This event is open to the public, and anyone still suffering from the lasting impacts of storm related property damage is highly encouraged to attend.

The presentation will be held Saturday, March 30th from 9:00 – 11:00 AM at the Atlantic Beach Town Hall (125 W Fort Macon Road, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512)

We look forward to hearing the latest news from an insurance agent, a public adjuster, and other consultants, who will also answer questions you may still have lingering. Linda Rice of Stearns Home Lending will talk about a few options for home loans that can be used to cover rebuilding expenses, as well as options for anyone interested in selling their home “as is”.

Some of the speakers will include:
Linda Rice – Stearns Lending
Jonathan Hughes – East Coast Restruction
Ron Hicks – Public Adjuster
Mike Hancock, Insurance agent, Farm Bureau in Beaufort
Infinity Roofing and Siding

A handful of Bluewater REALTORS® will also be on-hand to provide insight into today’s Real Estate Market, and provide informational assistance to those in need. We will also be passing out a list of reputable companies including roofers.

We’re hoping that this event will help provide some additional resources to anyone still struggling with financing, or finding local service professionals to finish up their jobs and get back into their homes.

Again, this event will be held on Saturday, March 30th from 9-11 AM at the Atlantic Beach Town Hall, which is connected to the AB Fire Station (125 W Fort Macon Road). We had a great turnout the first time we hosted a similar session in Emerald Isle, and know there’s still families in similar situations in the Atlantic Beach area that could benefit from these resources. Refreshments will be served and attendees can register to win a door prize.

If you have any questions about the event, or your business would like to speak during the session- Please reach out to Cathy Sheaffer at (252) 354-2128

Hurricane Recovery FAQ: Guests and Homeowners

Hurricane Recovery FAQ: Guests and Homeowners

Bluewater Staff and the Town are working hard to recover our island and answer any questions you may have regarding Hurricane Recovery.

To our Guests and Homeowners: Please see below the list of Frequently Asked Questions following Hurricane Florence.

1. When will your offices be open?

Our offices are now open at this time, 8:30am to 5pm daily

2. When will the curfew be lifted?

There is no curfew at this time

3. How can I file a claim with Travel Insurance?

If you purchased Travel Insurance for your stay – you may contact RedSky about your travel insurance claim at (866) 889-7409 or visit

4. Why will no one answer the phone?

Our phone lines are extremely busy during this time. Our staff is working very hard to answer all calls and return messages. Thanks for your patience!

5. When will we be updated about our vacation?

Bluewater will continue to communicate with you via email and the website to keep you updated.

6. Why does the link to my rental property say “not rentable”?

If the status of your rental property says “not rentable” – it could be due to damages, flooding, or power outages preventing access to the property.

7. Are there restaurants and groceries stores open?

The main grocery stores, Publix and Food Lion are open and fully stocked. There are limited restaurants open at this time and only serving limited menus. Please be aware some businesses are only accepting cash at this time due to power and internet outages.

8. Are gas stations open and gas readily available?

The majority of gas stations are open with gas readily available. Please be aware that some gas stations suffered damages on the island and are are closed until further notice.

9. How are the beach accesses?

You are able to reach the beach; however, there has been erosion from the ocean during Hurricane Florence. Please note that some public and private walkways to the beach have suffered damage. Be cautious while using beach accesses.

10. If the property rented does not have beach access, does this make it non-rentable and can I be moved or refunded?

If the dwelling itself is safe and uninhabitable, but the beach access is not available, this does not warrant the property as being uninhabitable. No refund or move is provided. Guests will be asked to sign a waiver that they agree not to use that access and will use the a nearby public access.

11. If I don’t have travel insurance and the property cannot be rented, do I get a refund?

If the property is deemed uninhabitable, Bluewater will need to process a full refund and block the property from rentals until repairs are completed and the property is cleared as safe and habitable. We will be working with the individual property owners to coordinate these refunds.

12. What documentation will be needed to file with Red Sky Insurance?

An email was sent out to guest with travel insurance with information on material needed for filing a claim based on your period of stays.

13. Are roads in North Carolina closed?

For roads closures and updates please visit

Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

Are You Prepared for A Hurricane?

When the time comes for you and your family to make a decision on whether you’re evacuating or riding out the storm, it’s important to know what steps should follow. Timing is of the essence in these situations, and the longer it takes for you to figure out a plan – the less time you have to physically prepare. You and your family should have a set list of protocols for each person for both scenarios- leaving and staying. Regardless of your decision, here’s a few things to keep in mind when a potentially dangerous storm is still a few days out.

Preparing Your Home

Valuable tips for preparing your home – 

  • Secure all outside furniture and any other objects that could be a potential hazard. Your best bet here is to move it all inside, but if that’s not possible- tie it down to something permanent. This includes- Hot Tub Covers, Grills, Trash Cans, and Pool Cleaning Equipment. Outdoor showers can be a great use of space for anything you don’t want to bring inside.
  • Board up all windows and sliding glass doors. Many coastal homeowners have hurricane shutters that can be used for this purpose, which can be a great time-saving investment. For those without the luxury, 3/4″ plywood usually does the trick. When time is of the essence, it helps to have these boards pre-cut and marked for each spot. If you’d prefer not to drill holes directly into the exterior of your home- these Plylox Window Clips might help do the trick.
  • Prep the Fridge & Freezer. If the power goes out for an extended period of time- You’ll want to salvage as much food as possible prior. Pack up coolers with as much instantly edible food as possible- in the case of a power outage, you likely won’t have any appliances to cook with either. Save some room for ice, and consider stocking up on non-perishable items before the grocery stores sell out of necessities. If you’re leaving, an age-old trick to see if the power went out is to freeze a cup of water and place a quarter on top, then leave it in the freezer. If the quarter sinks to the bottom, you’ll know that the power went off for an extended period of time and any remaining food should be thrown away.
  • Have Plenty of Bottled Water on hand. In these situations, you never know how long you might have to go without clean water, so it’s important to make sure that you’re stocked up for at least a week. Some people choose to fill up bathtubs for teeth brushing and toilet refills.
  • Protect your valuables. It’s probably a good idea to purchase a secure box to keep things like Titles, Passports, Birth Certificates, Social Security Cards, and Insurance Information together- and make sure you know where it is at all times. Family photos, videos, and keepsakes are also things you may want to include but don’t fill it up so much that you can’t carry it in case of an emergency. Be sure to take it with you if you evacuate.
  • Fill up your gas tanks. Don’t wait on this step- as many of the local gas stations can’t keep up with demand just a few days before a storm is scheduled to hit, and it could take them a while to receive another shipment. This not only goes for your vehicles but for chainsaws and generators as well.
  • Get some cash. If electric and/or internet service is down-  a Credit or Debit card won’t help you out in a bind.

Preparing Your Family

Once you and your family prepare and review a Pre-Storm checklist, it will be easier for everyone to focus on their specified tasks when the time comes. Make sure you review it frequently, and update the list as necessary. Here are a few ideas for you to help get everyone involved throughout the process.

  • Have everyone pack a suitcase with essential clothes. Children may need some help with this process, but make sure that you bring some of their favorite items along as well to keep them occupied. Place them in a secure space that you can get to easily, if for some reason you have to leave in a hurry. Household cleaning supplies and a First Aid Kit should also be easily available within these bags.
  • Create a list of emergency phone numbers and addresses. We all rely on cell phones these days, but if you get stuck with a dead battery- it’s always a good idea to have a list handy of people that you can call from a neighbors phone. You should always have the local hurricane shelter information and address handy and a plan on what to do with pets and medically fragile family members, should you feel the need to evacuate last minute.
  • If you do end up leaving the area, be sure to keep family and friends updated as much as possible with your intended location and Estimated Time of Arrival.
  • If you plan on riding it out, go ahead and create a safe space in the most secure room you have. Preferably off the ground level and with little to no window coverage. Set up sleeping arrangements for your family and make sure that there’s plenty of flashlights, candles, and games or books to keep you occupied if the power goes out.

Staying Informed

Knowing what’s going on and what is expected to happen is one of the most crucial parts of staying safe during a Hurricane. Luckily for us locals, we have a few different news crews that keep an eye on the tropics throughout the year and keep us in the loop if we need to start making preparations. You’ll want to have as much of a head-start as possible when securing your home, and go ahead and take off a few days before if you plan on traveling. Whether you’ve made the decision to stay or go, there are a few things you can do to help understand how things are progressing in your area.

  • NOAA National Hurricane Center posts updates at least every 6 hours whenever a tropical cyclone has formed in the Atlantic. You can find these updates on or the NOAA Weather Radio. (A List of NC Stations can be found here)
  • Know the difference between Watches & Warnings!
    • Watches- Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are possible within your area. Because it may not be safe to prepare for a hurricane once winds reach tropical storm force, the NHC issues hurricane watches 48 hours before it anticipates tropical storm-force winds.
    • Warnings- Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are expected somewhere within the specified area. NHC issues a hurricane warning 36 hours in advance of tropical-storm-force winds to give you time to complete your preparations. All preparations should be complete. Evacuate immediately if ordered to do so.
  • Follow along with your local town government website, E-mails, and Social Media channels for updates in regards to curfews, mandatory evacuations, and re-entry.
  • If you stayed in the area, don’t leave your house until you’re 100% sure it’s safe to do so. Assess any damages to your property, and take immediate actions as needed. Have an idea of your neighbors that have stayed, and check on them once you have identified that the storm has passed.
  • Flooding and storm surge are often the most devastating factors from Hurricanes along our coastal communities. Make sure that it is safe and think twice before attempting to drive through any standing water.

Cleaning Up The Mess

If there’s a few things Eastern NC learned after the destruction due to Hurricane Florence, it’s how to bounce back. Members of each community chipped in to help those who didn’t have the resources, and countless organizations stepped in to distribute food and supplies.  There are still many that are dealing with the repercussions, but for the most part- We have come back closer and stronger than ever. Here are a few tips we learned throughout the last year that we hopefully won’t have to use again for a long time.

  • Tarps are crucial. A lot of homes were damaged from high winds and rainwater pounding on the roof. If you can effectively place tarps over the affected areas, it can buy you some time before you hire a crew for a full or partial replacement.
  • Know before you go. A few areas were cut off for a period of time due to high floodwater over streets. It’s important to have a firm understanding of how deep the water is, and whether or not there’s any fallen debris that might get you stuck on your way home.
  • Choose your contractors wisely. It’s important to make sure that any projects that aren’t possible for you to tackle are licensed and insured for the job they’re hired to do. Whenever possible, make sure you contact friends and/or past clients to gather their experiences.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If there’s something that you need assistance taking care of, be sure to ask a friend, family member, or neighbor to help you out. Don’t overwork yourself and risk getting hurt just to get the job done. There are usually plenty of people around that are willing to help you out.
  • It’s important to have approved permits for any significant projects and/or upgrades when rebuilding after a storm. Check to make sure your general contractor is aware of the process and what documents need to be obtained before starting on any major construction.