Tourists are being asked to evacuate the four-wheel drive area of Carova Beach in Currituck County. The evacuation order is not mandatory, and it was issued early Wednesday. High surf and storm surge could make the beach road impassable.
North Carolina officials are ordering tourists and residents to leave a barrier island accessible only by ferries as powerful Hurricane Earl heads toward the U.S. coast.
Hyde County emergency management officials plan a Wednesday morning evacuation of Ocracoke Island. The decision came late Tuesday, as the hurricane whipped across the Caribbean with winds of up to 135 mph.
Lindsey Mooney said earlier Tuesday that the evacuation order would affect about 5,000 visitors to the island and fewer than 800 year-round residents.
Earl is expected to bring high winds and heavy rain to North Carolina's Outer Banks by late Thursday or early Friday.
The NC Ferry system will be on a first-come, first –serve basis for all vehicles open to Hatteras, Swan Quarter, and Cedar Island pending road conditions in those receiving counties beginning at 5:00 am Wednesday. Schedules and toll collections are suspended during the evacuation order.
Emergency services, government agencies, commercial vendors delivering essential groceries and supplies, and permanent residential traffic as indicated by purple and green stickers will be allowed on the island via air and marine traffic. The State Highway Patrol may restrict access without appropriate credentials.
Those seeking shelter may travel to North Pitt High School, 5659 N. Highway 11, Bethel, NC. This shelter will be open at 9 am on Wednesday, September 1.
Hyde County officials say the forecast track of Earl could cause significant wind, rain and storm surges that may flood low-lying areas of their county, both on the mainland and Ocracoke.
Hyde County officials are meeting tonight to discuss the latest forecast.
A news release states they presently "anticipate a mandatory evacuation for Ocracoke Island on Wednesday, September 1 beginning at 5 a.m. for all residents and visitors."
Seas from Earl could be up to 20 feet in the coastal waters. Overwash issues are likely.
More information for Ocracoke residents from Hyde County officials is below:
"Before leaving, residents and guests in this area should take precautions such as moving cars and equipment to higher ground.
Please pick up potential debris that could become unsecure during the storm.
People with medical needs and unique situations are urged to consider their options. Hyde County public safety services will cease after winds reach 50 mph sustained.
Again, there is not an evacuation in place at this time, but all are encouraged to make plans for their safety and security.
As seen in the past, hurricanes are unpredictable and can change with little notice. Residents and visitors need to remain vigilant and not let your guard down.
Hyde County Emergency Services continues to review the latest weather forecasts, is coordinating with the State and nearby counties, and advising citizens on possible actions to protect themselves and their property. Further updates will be issued after the 6 pm meeting.
Please make yourselves aware of the state ferry system’s schedule and road conditions before making travel plans during this time and after the storm has passed."