October 3, 2018 -

Wilmington and Beaches Now Open Following Hurricane Florence

By Sherri Middleton

Life is returning to normal in Wilmington, N.C. and surrounding areas after Hurricane Florence dumped more than 23 inches of rain on Wilmington, N.C., September causing flooding, power outages and property damage, but Kim Hufham, president and CEO of Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau said hotels, businesses and facilities are open for business.

“The perception is that we were devastated by the storm and that is simply not true,” Hufham said. “We still have some recovery left to do, mainly in residential sections, but we are open and we need people to come back. We are a destination that relies on tourism and the industry employs many people in this community. The biggest thing people can do to help us now is to plan a future visit.”

With Wilmington’s location along the Cape Fear River and beachfront including Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Fort Fisher and Kure Beach minutes away, the most significant damage came from rising water, high winds and tremendous rainfall that battered the area for more than a week as the hurricane settled over the seaboard. The rainfall, downed trees and rising river caused loss of electricity and flooding on roadways and in businesses and homes.

The Wilmington International Airport, about seven minutes from the center of Wilmington lost power during the storm but quickly resumed flights and operations. More than half the hotel properties are open and the Wilmington Convention Center is expected to open Oct. 11. The convention center was closed to repair water damage in meeting rooms.

Hufham said now that essential services have been restored and the cleanup is almost complete, attention is turning to parks and sports facilities. The IRONMAN 70.3 which was scheduled for Oct. 13 has been canceled this year. Organizers worried bike routes through rural areas where flooding was the heaviest, might not be open.

“The decision to not have the IRONMAN 70.3 was for the safety of the participants,” Hufham said. “The IRONMAN has made a three-year commitment to us and in place of the event this year, there will be fundraisers.”

The course would have taken athletes on a swim course at Wrightsville Beach, a bike ride from Wrightsville Beach to Wilmington across the Cape Fear River and along 56 miles of rural roads, followed by a run through historic downtown.

Other scheduled sporting events that will take place as scheduled, include the USTA Southern Combo Doubles, one of the fastest growing adult programs in the southern section. That event is scheduled over two weekends: Nov. 1-4 and Nov. 8-11 at the Althea Gibson Tennis Complex.

Riverfest in historic downtown Wilmington was rescheduled for Nov. 17-18 and will include a street fair, arts and crafts, fireworks, live music and classic and vintage car exhibitions.

For more information, visit www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com.