Ocracoke group second-guesses voluntary evacuation
By CONNIE LEINBACH
The Ocracoke Control Group for weather emergencies began making preparations today to brace for Tropical Storm Arthur’s arrival.
It’s a last-minute action because of the voluntary, not mandatory, evacuation.
Styron, a former county commissioner and owner of the Sweet Tooth, said
that while she was commissioner, the county worked on a hurricane plan
and that the local control group should have met days before today --
the day Arthur is expected to approach the island.
don’t want another Alex,” she said, referring to the 2004 storm that
took the island by surprise with soundside flooding that destroyed more
than 300 cars.
The biggest issue is the estimated 9,000 visitors
still on the island and dealing with aftermath contingencies. Is
there enough food? What if the power goes out for a sustained period of
time? What about medical care if people are injured?
Board of Commissioners on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for
Hyde County and issued a voluntary evacuation order.
does that mean?” asked E.J. Carpino of Raleigh on Wednesday while he
waited in the Variety Store parking lot. “I’ve been in earthquakes and
tornadoes, and I don’t want my car to flood.” He said he and his
wife would leave today.
Emergency Services director Justin
Gibbs, speaking via speakerphone from the mainland, told the group of
about 10 officials and business owners Thursday morning that his
biggest concern is road washout at the north end of the island thereby
preventing people from leaving after the storm and the possible loss of
“How are we going to get all these people of the island?”
Gibbs asked. “It’s too late to declare a mandatory evacuation.
The (Tideland) generator is not an option.”
Sheriff's Department deputy sergeant, advocated for an evening curfew
for safety reasons. A curfew will be in effect from 8 p.m. today
until 8 a.m. tomorrow.
“All these people are asking, ‘Where’s
the hurricane party,’ " he said. He also advocated alcohol sales
restrictions. An alcohol sales ban is in effect at 5 p.m. today.
Ballance, CEO of the Ocracoke Health Center, noted the need for a cadre
of pre-certified medical professionals to be on stand-by in case
there’s a need on the island for mass medical care.
“They should have met with us before the county commissioners met,” noted David Scott Esham, owner of the Pony Island Motel.
County ordered a mandatory evacuation on Wednesday. That means that
Highway 12 near Whalebone Junction will be closed to vehicles
preventing people from coming to Ocracoke, which is still open.
at his home, County Commissioner John Fletcher, who represents
Ocracoke, said he advocated for the voluntary evacuation because “if
you declare a mandatory evacuation on the biggest week of the year, then you have to lift it and stage re-entry.”
People know the risk from all the talk on the television, he said.
“They can make up their own minds,” he added.
He said the strongest winds of this storm will be on the eastern side of it or out to sea.
“We’re 13 to 14 miles west of Hatteras,” he said. “So, if (Arthur) skirts Hatteras, it’s still far off from us.”
for food, he said there’s enough food on this island to feed all the
remaining tourists and residents for a week. He also doesn’t
think Ocracoke needs a curfew. Some of the big businesses on the island
have generators and could be open feeding people, but not if there’s a
curfew, he said.
“That’s just government interference we don’t need,” he said.
The only thing he’s worried about is flooding from the soundside.
“Soundside flooding doesn’t imperil human life,” he said. “Therefore, the voluntary evacuation.”