Hyde County, where sustained winds of 90 miles per hour were recorded, is under a curfew from 10pm Sunday night through 6am Monday morning.
Power is reported out for all of mainland Hyde county, with widespread reports of downed lines, fallen trees and impassable roads in the county. Jamie Tunnell said the heaviest damage is in the Scranton area.
Highway 264 from the west is open but the county spokeswoman stresses that drivers need to be cautious
The dike around Swan Quarter was not compromised, though the county says there was some overwash in lower spots causing some minimal flooding in the town.
A safe shelter located at Mattamuskeet School has been set up for displaced people that did not evacuate and have damaged structures.
Tourists on Ocracoke Island have begun evacuating as Hurricane Irene heads for the East Coast and it's the first test of whether people will heed orders to get out of the way of what could be a monstrous storm.
All Hyde County schools are closed Thursday and Friday, according to the Hyde County school website.
The county says two shelter are being opened in anticipation of Ocracoke residents leaving. In Nash County a shelter is set to open at Inglewood Baptist Church, 1350 S.Winstead Avenue, Rocky Mount, at 8:00 AM Thursday. Pets will not be co-located, but accommodations will be available and info provided upon arrival.
In Wilson County a shelter is set to open at Raleigh Road Baptist Church, 4150 Raleigh Road Parkway, Wilson at 8:00 AM Thursday for mainland Hyde County evacuees. Pets will not be co-located, but accommodations will be available and info provided upon arrival.
The first ferry to leave the island early Wednesday had around a dozen cars on it. At midday a ferry bound for Swan Quarter was full, while another headed to Cedar Island had about 20 vehicles. Both ferries have a capacity of 50 vehicles.
It won't be an easy task to get thousands of people off Ocracoke Island, which is accessible only by boat. Ocracoke is home to about 800 year-round residents and thousands of vacationers each summer. Tourists started evacuating Wednesday at 5 a.m. The island's residents have been told to evacuate Thursday.
Many on the 16-mile-long barrier island would probably stay, said Tommy Hutcherson, who serves on the local board that issues evacuation orders.
“I’ll be here,” said Hutcherson, who has lived on Ocracoke for 29 years. “A lot of the locals will choose to stay.”
WITN's Clayton Bauman is on Ocracoke Island to see how people there are responding to the calls to evacuate. His reports begin at 5:00 p.m. on WITN News.
It won't be an easy task to get thousands of people off Ocracoke, which is accessible only by boat. Ocracoke is home to about 800 year-round residents and thousands of vacationers each summer. Tourists were told to evacuate Wednesday. The island's residents have been told to evacuate Thursday.
The state-run ferry service starts running at 5 a.m. Wednesday. The ferry off the island will be free during the evacuation. The boats can carry no more than 50 vehicles at a time.