Hopeful tourists having to cancel OBX vacations now fighting for refunds

HATTERAS ISLAND, N.C. (WAVY) — As crews work to restore power to the Outer Banks, would-be tourists are fighting for refunds.

“My husband and I both worked a lot of overtime in order to make this trip happen,” says Stephanie Case, of Maryland. “Everybody was very excited… a lot of planning went into place.”

On Friday night, she and her family were finishing up their packing, preparing to head south first thing Saturday morning.

Suddenly, she received an email from Surf or Sound Realty, the company the family used to book their week-long vacation. The email was notifying customers of the mandatory evacuation.

“Shock was the first thing,” she says. “I thought, ‘how am I going to tell my children?'”

Hatteras, Ocracoke outage expected to last another 4-6 days

The email further noted “we offer no refunds due to mandatory evacuation.” Case says she called the company in the morning and was told the same thing.

The family had already spent $1,850 – including the security deposit and the full week’s stay.

“I understand both sides of it… it’s just, this is hard-earned money,” she said. “We did not step foot in that rental property.”

Ann Wood, Surf or Sound Realty Vice President of Sales and Marketing, released the following statement to 10 On Your Side:

We feel sincere empathy for all of our guests who have had their vacations interrupted by this unfortunate event.

We recommend travel insurance to our guests at the time of booking and lease signing. Guests with travel insurance are being encouraged to file a claim with our insurance carrier.

Since the power outage occurred on Thursday morning, one office has been operating under independent generator power and we have been able to answer calls on those phones, however the call volume has been high and unfortunately some calls have been dropped, or the guests have had difficulty hearing us. We have been communicating directly with guests who have reservations affected by this event.”

Case says she didn’t purchase insurance. A friend of hers, Misty King, told 10 On Your Side that her family did buy insurance for their nearly $7,000 house rental. King said she filed a claim and was told to expect a response within four to six weeks.

Case’s family ended up staying home. Some others who were forced out of their rentals headed to Virginia Beach instead.

Teresa Diaz with the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau said, “We have seen an uptick in inquiries about rooms, houses, et cetera.”

Diaz says the Resort City is having a strong summer and they will work to accommodate those who were displaced further south.

“It’s unfortunate about what happened in the Outer Banks and we’re looking forward to helping people realize their vacation dream, because that’s important. Vacation is really important,” Diaz said.

Officials in the Outer Banks say they expect to have the power restored by Monday.