The Hyde County Board of Commissioners voted today to declare a state of emergency for the county and a mandatory evacuation for Ocracoke Island effective at 3 p.m.
With the mandatory evacuation, visitors will no long be able to travel to Ocracoke. Law enforcement will be stationed at each ferry terminal to allow only residents, property-owners, and vendors access to Ocracoke for Thursday and Friday. No inbound traffic will be allowed starting Saturday.
Under a mandatory evacuation all ferry routes serving Ocracoke will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. Reservations and priority status will not be honored. Tolls on the sound class ferries will also be temporarily removed.
The NC Ferry Division has expressed serious concern for rising water levels in the Pamlico Sound. If the water level continues to rise, the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferries may not be able to utilize the loading docks. Therefore, it is imperative that people who choose to leave Ocracoke do so as soon as possible. Property owners and vendors entering Ocracoke today or tomorrow must realize there is a possibility they may not be able to get off the island via Hatteras.
Anyone who chooses to stay on Ocracoke for Hurricane Joaquin, does so at their own risk and should be prepared to sustain themselves for several days in the event of flooding, downed trees, and/or loss of power.
An emergency general population shelter will be ready to receive residents starting at 6 p.m. tonight in the Englewood Baptist Church, 1350 South Winstead Ave., Rocky Mount, Nash County. The shelter will have showers and food available. Space for pets will be provided. Please be prepared with clothes, medication, and other necessities for several days.
Any patients with advanced medical needs requiring special assistance should contact the Hyde County Health Department at (252) 926-4200.
Ocracoke School closed early for a half day today and does not expect to reopen until Tuesday or Wednesday, according to Walter Padgett, principal.
Ocracoke United Methodist Church will be closed on Sunday.
Storm information from the Island Free Press (www.islandfreepress.org), reports the following regarding Joaquin:
After seeing most afternoon global and hurricane models, there remains a wide spread of solutions, but seems to be an overall trend of keeping the hurricane offshore, possibly well offshore. There remains a clustering of land falling hurricane models along with the Canadian and Navy Nogaps global models with GFS/UKMET and ECMWF remaining well offshore.
It is too early for a stand down, but it seems the threat is considerably less than this time yesterday.
Onshore near gale force winds will continue into the mid-Atlantic coast for the next three days with associated heavy seas/surf/high tides and beach erosion.
This will be exacerbated by heavy swells from a forecast category 4 Joaquin in the Bahamas coming north but off shore and slowly coming down to a cat 1 to 2 as it passes by the mid Atlantic coast late this weekend or early next week.