The only road onto a North Carolina barrier island damaged by Hurricane Arthur is being reopened in stages.
Permanent residents of Hatteras Island began returning Saturday. Employees of businesses that need to get ready to accommodate arriving tourists were also being allowed onto the island that was closed to arrivals since early Thursday.
A small section of fragile North Carolina Highway 12 buckled after being submerged by churning waters during the Category 2 hurricane. Officials also tested the two-mile-long Bonner Bridge onto the island to ensure it was safe for traffic.
Local authorities aren't saying when vacationers can return to the island, which suffered extensive flooding in some areas.
Gov. Pat McCrory says North Carolina officials hope to have the bridge to Hatteras Island and its two-lane highway open by late Saturday despite some damage caused by Hurricane Arthur.
At a news conference Friday, McCrory said winds are too high and seas are too rough to do a sonar scan on Bonner Bridge, which connects Hatteras to the rest of the state. And he said problems on North Carolina Highway 12 include some buckling of pavement and standing sand and water.
Dare County officials say repairs are underway for Highway 12.
McCrory says officials believe both the bridge and the road will reopen late Saturday.
Farther south, the governor says power is out on all of Ocracoke island. But he says people are safe and there are no reports of injuries.
Here's the latest information Dare County released about recovery efforts:
NCDOT is working on Hatteras Island to assess NC Highway 12 and make repairs in an effort to restore access to Hatteras Island as quickly as possible.
The Dare County Control Group is maintaining close contact with NCDOT officials on their efforts to restore access to Hatteras Island. As soon as a determination is made that Highway 12 is safe for passage, officials will assess whether access can safely be provided to all Hatteras Island Villages, and that the necessary infrastructure is in place to provide essential goods and services. At that time a reentry advisory will be announced. Until then, access to and from Hatteras Island on Highway 12 will remain closed. This includes the Villages of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras.
The Control Group serves as the decision making body for Emergency Management and consists of representatives of Dare County, the Sheriff’s Office, the National Park Service, and the Towns of Duck, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Manteo, Nags Head, and Southern Shores.
There is no restricted access to the areas of Dare County North of Oregon Inlet including the Towns of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, and Manteo, as well as the unincorporated areas of Martin’s Point, Colington, Wanchese, Roanoke Island, Manns Harbor, East Lake, and Stumpy Point.
CAPE HATTERAS ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE
Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative crews have energized all of the major village circuits that experienced outages in the wake of Hurricane Arthur. Crews are now working to restore around 325 individual outages across Hatteras Island.
HATTERAS ISLAND WATER SERVICE
The Cape Hatteras EMC has restored normal power to the Joseph "Mac" Midgett Water Plant. Water system demands have returned to normal. The Dare County Water Department would like to thank the residents and visitors for their invaluable assistance in reporting the numerous water system leaks to our water distribution staff which greatly reduced the response time for finding and making the repairs.
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
Park staff are continuing field assessments this afternoon in all three parks. All facilities remain closed at this time. Further information on re-opening facilities will be disseminated tomorrow.
TOWN OF DUCK
Duck Surf Rescue staff are replacing lifeguard stands and patrolling Duck beaches on four wheel drives today. Surf Rescue advises beach goers to stay out of the water due to surf conditions and storm debris.
TOWN OF MANTEO
All street closures have been lifted. All Town services have been restored to their regular operations and schedules.
TOWN OF SOUTHERN SHORES
Southern Shores beaches open for July 4th holiday. Beach lifeguards operational. Reminder - no fireworks, including no "Chinese lanterns" allowed.
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The NC Dot reports Highway 12 is closed in Dare County near Hatteras.
The photo on the story is from the NC Dot traffic cam on Mirlo Beach on Hatteras Island about 7 a.m.
DOT says sound-side flooding is making it hard to get to trouble spots.
Access is no longer restricted north of Oregon Inlet in Dare County. Residents and visitors can come and go as they like north of Oregon Inlet in Dare County.
The Dare County Control Group has issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents and visitors on Hatteras Island. After 5:00 a.m. Thursday, no access will be allowed to the island.
All Hatteras Island residents and visitors are advised to evacuate during daylight hours on Thursday before the effects of Tropical Storm Arthur begin to bring high winds, rough seas, dangerous rip currents, and the potential for water and sand overwash on NC Highway 12.
A State of Emergency has been issued for all of Dare County with the only restriction being the mandatory evacuation of Hatteras Island.
Visitors should evacuate with all personal belongings and follow instructions offered by their property management company.
Those evacuating to areas north of Dare County are encouraged to travel westbound on Highway 64 to Interstate 95. Evacuating through the rural areas to the west of Dare County will help avoid traffic backups and congestion that may prolong evacuation by traveling northbound through the Hampton Roads portion of Virginia.
The National Weather Service has issued a Hurricane Warning for all of Dare County which means the area should anticipate near hurricane conditions.