RODANTHE, North Carolina (WTVD) -- As the power outage provoked a mass exodus, the re-energized Outer Banks on Friday welcomed a heavy influx of tourists ready to get their vacation on.
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"I'm going right to the beach," visitor Donnie Baker proclaimed to ABC11. "It was heartbreaking not to be here for the week. I'm taking the fishing poles off the truck and will start fishing immediately."
Baker, who drove down with his wife and five children from Virginia, were among the first to line up on the western side of the Bonner Bridge before police lifted the restrictions preventing access to Hatteras and Ocracoke islands because of a power outage.
Hundreds of other cars were lined up as well as folks drove in from several parts of the country, including Missouri, Minnesota, New Jersey and Maryland.
The islands lost power a week ago following damage by a contractor to a critical transmission line from the mainland, prompting local officials to order all visitors to evacuate.
"It was heartbreaking," Baker said. "The hardest was telling the kids that we couldn't go. But we're making the best of it now.
"Residents and businesses on Hatteras and Ocracoke are ready to welcome visitors back to share their beautiful beaches and unique history and culture," Gov. Roy Cooper said. "Thanks to everyone involved including local and state officials for their tireless work to get power restored quickly and safely."
The reopening of the islands was warmly welcomed by the residents and business owners who depend on the peak summer season to sustain their livelihoods throughout the rest of the year.
Jacob Wright, owner of Rodanthe's Atlantic Coast Cade, says he lost between $55,000 and $70,000 in business, which includes lost wages, tips, and dozens of pounds of food thrown out when the area lost power.
"This is the time we make money, this is the time you're saving money for the winter," Wright told ABC11. "When something like this not weather related hits us, it really catches you off guard."
Still, Wright was thrilled at the sense of urgency shown by repair crews, who restored power in six days - a week earlier than originally predicted.
"We are more than proud for what our local power company did for us in this time," Wright said. "They busted their butts non-stop, day in day out right now. I couldn't be happier to be open today for this time to be back open."