- Associated Press - Sunday, August 6, 2017

OCRACOKE, N.C. (AP) - Businesses on a North Carolina island say sales are gradually picking up after a power outage forced visitors to stay away for a week.

The Virginian-Pilot newspaper reported that several businesses on Ocracoke Island saw an influx of customers Saturday, though not quite at normal summer levels. Ocracoke and Hatteras islands reopened to tourists Friday after power was restored following a construction accident. Ocracoke is accessible only by air or water, so drivers must take a ferry boat.

Jason Wells, owner of Jason’s Restaurant, said business was almost back to normal on Saturday as waiters and busboys hurried between tables. A couple dozen customers dined in the front room in the afternoon. Wells told the newspaper that he lost about $40,000 in sales and $4,500 in food to the outage at the peak of summer vacation season.

The power went out for both islands early on July 27 after crews building a bridge drove a metal casing into underground transmission lines.

Pirate’s Chest Gift Shop manager Alma Flores said sales were not quite what she would expect on a normal summer Saturday. Business was booming in July but since the outage, Flores noted: “It’s been a little slow.”

At the Silver Lake Motel and Inn, desk clerk Ricky Tillett said the rooms were about half full on Saturday. Next weekend is almost sold out.

Motel manager Patty O’Neal said she was relieved to have the power - and customers - return.

“It’s good to see the people back,” she said.

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