Banner tells history of Salvo Community Cemetery and erosion

Published 3:43 pm Sunday, September 26, 2021

Drizzly skies did not dampen the excitement of the installation crew at the Salvo Community Cemetery.

Under her umbrella, 85-year old Jean Hooper helped thread a long zip tie through a banner stretched along the south fence of the cemetery in the Salvo Day Use Area on September 16.

When the installation was finished, the banner creator Justin Cook called out “good job.”

The mesh banner connects the cemetery’s history and Jean Hooper’s story to erosion and storms that have washed graves into the Pamlico Sound.

Tide and Time: Sea Level Rise and Erosion on North Carolina’s Outer Banks is a four-year project of Justin Cook, a photographer and journalist from Durham. He chose to focus on the community cemetery, yoking people and ancestors to the eroding shoreline.

Says the initial panel, the cemetery was first used in 1872 when Watson Lewis Midgett (b. 1822) was interred. The land belonged to Little Bannister Midgett (1825-1898) and his spouse Dortha (1828-1901). The couple had 12 children and 101 grandchildren, reports Cook.

Starting in 2017, several initiatives to contain erosion were instigated by the community and historical organizations with help from Dare County. Funding came from fundraisers. A $162,000 grant from Hurricane Matthew Disaster and Recovery Act applied for by Dare County installed the current bulkhead and riprap.

The banner salutes Robin Daniels Holt, Jenny Creech, Bonny Pugh Somers and Dawn Taylor for contributions. The public art installation was made possible with support from the Pulitzer Center and its Connected Coastlines Initiative, National Park Service, Coastal Review Online, Photoville and North Carolina Arts Council.

The photograph exhibit in the Salvo Day Use Area will be posted until Nov. 16, 2021. The area, south of Salvo, is open during daylight hours. Justin Cook’s book, Tide and Time, will soon be available at Buxton Village Books. A lengthy article by Cook can be accessed at pulitzercenter.org/stories/tide-and-time-sea-level-rise-and-solastalgia-north-carolinas-outer-banks.

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