Ocracoke Island’s only gas station closing for good

Published 11:34 am Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Ocracoke Station and Campground is shutting down for good.

Owners Sean and Laurie Death have struggled to save the business amid financial and insurance woes in the aftermath of 2016’s Hurricane Matthew. This month they announced, through an open letter to the community, that they intend to return the property to its previous owner.

For now, the couple continues to pay the power bill and the pumps remain on. Customers can buy gas 24 hours a day with credit and debit cards. The store and campground are closed.

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“First and foremost, Laurie and I wish to thank everyone, native, local and visitors for the love and support over the years,” Sean Death said in the community letter. “It has been difficult to let go of something we poured all our time, energy, blood and even some tears into over the last six years.”

He said the couple leased the gas station and campground, with no capital, intending to save the business, and did well for several years.

“We created a consistently reliable service that could be counted on to be open every day year-round at 6 a.m. We were proud to be able to provide a reliable service to the island,” he wrote.

In January 2016, the couple entered an owner-finance purchase agreement and bought the station. Then in October, Hurricane Matthew dealt a devastating blow.

“The National Weather Service was on site and made an official measurement of 17 inches of standing tide inside the gas station,” Death wrote.

After the storm, the couple got to work repairing and restoring the building, using their own money while awaiting insurance and FEMA reimbursement.

That reimbursement never came due to an issue with the former owners, Death wrote.

“This was a devastating blow as we had used all our savings and working capital to start the tear-out and equipment replacement to be able to reopen,” he said.

Facing insurmountable repairs to the property, the couple made the decision to close.

“Our exit has begun and will occur over the course of the next few weeks,” Death wrote. “We will continue paying the power bill to allow the fuel pumps to operate. At the end of our exit, the only visible change will be that the inside of the store will no longer be open or operating.

“Again, we wish to thank everyone who has helped and supported us through this venture since It certainly has been a life experience we will always remember.”