With concerns growing that Hurricane Irene could make a direct hit on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, officials for Dare County have ordered a mandatory evacuation of the island that is the setting for Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Communities affected by that order included Hatteras, Frisco, Buxton, Avon, Salvo, Kitty Hawk, Duck, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, Southern Shores, Colington, and Roanoke Island.
Forecasts issued at 8 p.m. EDT Thursday said Irene would "approach the coast of North Carolina on Saturday."
Hurricane Irene is a serious threat for all of Dare County and a Hurricane Watch has been issued for the area. When the storm arrives on Saturday, expect hurricane force winds with the potential for flooding and over wash on highways and roads throughout Dare County.
A mandatory evacuation has been ordered for all visitors and residents by the Dare County Control Group. The visitor evacuation started at 8:00 a.m. this morning and the resident evacuation order begins at 8:00 a.m. Friday.
Dare County Emergency Management advises visitors to evacuate as soon as possible, and urges all residents to promptly complete their storm readiness and begin evacuating Friday morning. There are no emergency shelters in Dare County. However, Friday morning at 10:00 a.m. the State of North Carolina will open the following 2 shelters for Dare County evacuees:
TJ Davis Recreation Center, 400 E. Sixth Street, Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870. (252) 533-2847. Pets will not be co-located at this shelter, but accommodations will be available and information will be provided upon arrival.
Northampton Cultural & Wellness Center, 9536 Hwy 305 North, Jackson, NC 27845. (252) 534-1303. Pets will be co-located at this site.
Dare County residents without a means of transportation to a state managed shelter outside of Dare County should call 252-475-5640 on Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to make travel arrangements.
Those with special medical needs should contact 252-475-5655 for assistance.
Kill Devil Hills Mayor Ray Sturza said those who decide to stay behind on the Outer Banks need to ensure they're prepared to wait out the storm.
"Please ensure that you have provisions that will serve your needs for at least three days, and five days would be a better margin of safety," he said in a statement. "My concern is that should this hurricane play out to be particularly damaging to the major population centers to the north of here, competition for post-disaster recovery resources is going to be unprecedented. So we must be prepared to take care of our own needs for some time, including an extended power outage."