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Ocracoke remains under mandatory evacuation for visitors

Update: A press release issued by Hyde County at 4 p.m. Wednesday, stated: “We are cautiously optimistic that ferry operations and road conditions will permit reentry as soon as tomorrow afternoon.” Updates on official reentry will be posted.

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By Peter Vankevich

No decision was made today (Wednesday, Sept. 27) by the Ocracoke Advisory Control Group to recommend opening up the island to visitors.  The Hyde County commissioners on Monday ordered a mandatory evacuation of visitors as Hurricane Maria’s advanced up the Atlantic Coast.

Tommy Hutcherson, proprietor of the Ocracoke Variety Store and a member of  the group, said in an email that tides are still running higher than normal, there is a considerable amount of water on Highway 12 in the normal spots on Hatteras Island and still a good bit of flooding on Ocracoke.

Ocracoke NC Hurricane Maria

Debris on Silver Lake Drive, Tuesday morning, Sept. 27. Photo: P. Vankevich

The high waters are also keeping the ferries from running and trial runs will be needed before they are deemed safe for travelers.

Also, Hatteras Island is still under mandatory evacuation and there is a check point at the Bonner Bridge.

No visitors will be able to come from that direction until Dare County lifts the evacuation on Hatteras Island.  They will not lift it until N.C 12 South is safe.

Therefore, even if Ocracoke lifted the evacuation, access would be limited via the Cedar Island and Swan Quarter ferries once they start running until Dare reopens Hatteras Island.

The group will meet again Thursday to reassess the situation.

The Ocracoke Advisory Control Group, composed of officials from several agencies and island stakeholders, advises the Hyde County Commissioners on emergencies.  

Ocracoke NC Hurricane Maria

Islanders navigate a high-water area on Sunset Drive near Cutting Sage Road on Wednesday. Photo: C. Leinbach