July 2, 2014

Voluntary evacuation is in progress on Ocracoke


Juliann and Ryan Wentz of York, Pa., were disappointed Wednesday afternoon at having to cut short their week vacation on Ocracoke because of the pending arrival of Tropical Storm Arthur.

“After the winter we had up in Pennsylvania, we were so looking forward to Ocracoke,” Wentz said as they packed up their children and dog at their rental house to make the trek home. “This is our fifth visit and the first time we’ve had anything like this.”

Hyde County issued a county-wide state of emergency at 12:30 today and a voluntary evacuation at 2 p.m. today.

“We wanted to put people on notice that it’s a serious situation out there and to make their own decisions about leaving,” said Bill Rich, Hyde County manager about the voluntary status. 

The next step would be mandatory evacuation for visitors, but Rich doesn’t think that will be necessary.

“(Arthur is) off the coast far enough, and it has constricted in size,” he said about the developing storm. “It’s almost 60 miles off now, but it was around 11 miles off the coast yesterday.”

Rich said the island will start to feel tropical-storm winds on Thursday night around 9 into Friday morning.

According to a press release issued by Hyde County, a state of emergency helps the county acquire state resources and assistance if necessary. It also temporarily suspends tolling for anyone leaving Ocracoke via Pamlico Sound ferries, which assists voluntary evacuation measures.

Currently, there are no restrictions associated with this state of emergency.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation's Ferry Division started round-the-clock service between Ocracoke and Hatteras islands at 2 p.m. today. Service will continue until weather conditions make it unsafe to operate.

In addition, ferry tolls on the Ocracoke-Cedar Island and Ocracoke-Swan Quarter runs will be waived until the evacuation order is lifted.

 The most recent forecast from the National Hurricane Center shows that, as of now, Ocracoke is expected to encounter sustained winds of tropical storm force beginning between 9 and 10 p.m. on Thursday and subsiding by 10 a.m. Friday. The size of the storm is projected to constrict as it approaches the North Carolina coast.  The outer periphery of hurricane force winds will pass roughly 40 miles east of Ocracoke. Peak winds are expected around 1 a.m. Friday with sustained winds of 60 mph at that time. Storm surge is still projected between zero to 3 feet above ground.

Residents and visitors are asked to monitor weather reports and take necessary precautions. Go to ReadyNC.org for ideas on emergency supply kits and more information about hurricane preparedness.

The Ocracoke Civic and Business Association has rescheduled activities for the Ocracoke Independence Day celebration to Saturday, July 5, when the weather is expected to clear up.

The following are the changes thus far:

Donald Davis storytelling is cancelled
NPS Pony Pens program
No Classic Car Show

Postponed until July 5:
Sand Sculpture Contest
Fig Cake Bake-Off
Parade (registration place may change)
Pirates on Stage (one performance only at 1 p.m. Community Square)
Evening celebration/Square Dance/Dance Party with the Rockers at Community Square

Lighthouse being open for viewing
Flag raising ceremony

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