Outer Banks visitors evacuate ahead of Maria


OCRACOKE, Hyde County - A mandatory evacuation order for visitors went into effect on Ocracoke Island at 5 a.m. Monday.

The Hyde County Board of Commissioners declared a state of emergency for all of Hyde County and a mandatory visitor evacuation of Ocracoke Island due to the threat of hurricane Maria. Commissioners cited the possible tropical storm force winds and storm surge of 2-4 feet along the Outer Banks as the reasons for the order.

During a state of emergency, all NC DOT ferry reservations are canceled and tolls are waived. Boarding the ferries will be on a first come first serve basis. Due to the temporary fortification in place after Jose on Hwy 12, commissioners warned impacts may occur in advance of the storm, and they recommend starting evacuation as soon as possible and utilizing the sound route ferries when evacuating.

Based on the current forecast, wind speeds could cause the suspension of ferry services early Tuesday morning, potentially making Monday night the last ferry runs available.

A tropical storm watch was issued Sunday for the North Carolina coast from Surf City northward to the state's Virginia border including the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. The National Hurricane Center said Sunday evening that the tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area beginning Tuesday. There is also a storm surge watch from Cape Lookout to Duck including the sound side of the Outer banks.

Hyde County officials alerted residents to make sure you have multiple ways to receive weather alerts, as there is the potential for severe weather. In addition, everyone needs ensure that their household hurricane preparedness plans are in place. You should be able to sustain yourself and your family for up to 72 hours after a storm. Please start to secure all outdoor furniture and any other loose objects.

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