N.C. 12 is the lifeline for the communities on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, connecting the islands to each other and to the mainland of North Carolina.
Island residents depend on the roadway for off-island community services, such as hospitals, emergency response and waste collection. N.C. 12 is also the primary evacuation route for all permanent and temporary residents on the islands when severe weather approaches.
Storms frequently cause the ocean to overwash N.C. 12 and deposit large quantities of sand over portions of the roadway. The storms sometime damage the N.C. 12 roadway itself, interrupting access and services to the island and placing severe hardships on island residents.
The worse the damage to N.C. 12, the longer it takes the N.C. Department of Transportation to repair the roadway. Longer repair times increase delays in using N.C. 12 and increase the hardship to residents needing access through the island and to the mainland. N.C. 12 must be continually repaired and maintained to prevent permanent loss of access on Hatteras Island.
NCDOT has identified three sections of N.C. 12 south of Rodanthe in Dare and Hyde counties that have experienced overwash events in recent years: