Editorial: Closing Snow's Cut Bridge Bad Idea Amid COVID-19

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 25 March 2020 22:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

There are no immediate plans to close Snow's Cut Bridge onto Pleasure Island.

Coronavirus is absolutely a cause for public concern. It's spreading. People are becoming more and more aware of how they should alter their lifestyles to protect themselves, their family, friends and their entire community. It's all about a team effort even if you don't know every team member's name.

The Carolina Beach Town Council has recently discussed closing Snow's Cut Bridge leading onto Pleasure Island (Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher).

While many residents desire that option in order to keep potential carriers of COVID-19 north of the bridge and away from our community, it's easier said than done and comes with a dose of unintended consequence.

Kure Beach Emergency Management Coordinator, Councilman David Heglar, summed it up on Monday March 23rd. He explained he's not in favor of closing the bridge because, "... of exposing our small pool of first responders to every single person who comes up to the bridge coming and going."

That's an excellent point. Unlike closing the bridge before a hurricane, and keeping it closed for three to five days, the current situation could last far longer; perhaps over a month once the process is put in place.

Unlike a hurricane evacuation where people are forced by law to shelter through a storm that lasts a couple of days before the winds calm, COVID-19 could remain in our area for many weeks.

Closing the bridge would require both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach to place emergency personnel at the bridge 24 hours a day throughout that extended period of time which would certainly expose those police and fire personnel to carriers of the virus.

An extended 24-hour operation for several months of that magnitude would tax our first responders both physically and mentally leading to not only exhaustion of personnel, but ultimately exhaustion of limited supplies and financial resources.

Closing the beach strand and shutting down short-term rentals of 90-days or less will certainly lead to a decrease in visitors to our Island.

Later this year we could be faced with hurricanes impacting the area in the summer months. If that scenario becomes reality the situation would become extremely taxing.

Not to sound even louder alarm bells during this pandemic, but local elected officials should also begin planning for Coronavirus overlapping with the upcoming 2020 Hurricane season.

Kure Beach officials have largely been opposed to closing the bridge at this point in time.

Some Carolina Beach Council members have expressed a desire to plan for such a bridge closure. While it's a good idea to have such a plan in place, any plan should be kept in the proper context with an appropriate mind-set and not with a hair trigger when officials overreact due to panic among the populous  who should already be practicing social distancing and, for our wiser older generation,  already be sheltering in place in whatever level of isolation they deem necessary.

Everyone currently believes the virus will be a memory in a few months. Consider this: If we're still dealing with COVID-19 in August following another Florence in North Carolina or another Katrina in the south. That's something the U.S. should prepare for.

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