Hyde County residents are being ordered to leave ahead of Hurricane Dorian, primarily due to the storm surge flood threat forecast for as much as three feet above ground over the next several days.
The evacuation order begins Wednesday at 5 a.m. for both the mainland and Ocracoke Island. Visitors were told to leave Ocracoke on Tuesday.
“If you do not comply with the evacuation order, please be aware that emergency services may not be available to you after tropical storm force winds begin,” said Hyde County Public Information Officer Donnie Shumate.
“Now is the time to finish your preparations and secure any loose items in your yard,” Shumate said. “Current predictions show the most likely time we will start experiencing tropical storm force winds is Thursday.”
The National Hurricane Center is predicting that low lying areas of Hyde County, including Ocracoke Island, could start receiving storm surge of greater than one foot above the ground over the next three days.
Locally higher amounts of greater than three feet above the ground are forecast for areas surrounding the Pungo River and Lake Mattamuskeet.
Those numbers do not include wind-driven wave heights that could be four feet or higher. Similar flooding was experienced during Hurricane Florence nearly one year ago.
“This is well ahead of the Dorian’s arrival, which is projected to occur on Thursday into Friday, and these values will only increase over the coming days,” Shumate said.
Along with the evacuation order, the Hyde County Board of Commissioners has instituted a curfew that will go into effect for Ocracoke Island from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. beginning Wednesday, Sept. 4 until it is lifted.
A ban on alcohol sales on Ocracoke will start Wednesday at 4 p.m., and on the Hyde County mainland on Thursday at 4 p.m.
All of Hyde County is currently under a hurricane watch and a storm surge watch.
The combination of higher than normal tides, storm surge, and building surf conditions significantly threaten the transportation routes that serve Ocracoke Island.
“The dunes that protect Highway 12 on Ocracoke are already being weakened during high tide cycles and it is possible that dune over wash precedes the peak weather conditions,” Shumate said. “When evaluating your evacuation plans, this needs to be taken into consideration.”
Only residents, homeowners, or vendors with an Ocracoke re-entry pass on their vehicles are being allowed on ferries inbound to Ocracoke, and priority boarding has been suspended.
The Ocracoke-Hatteras, Ocracoke-Cedar Island, and Ocracoke-Swan Quarter ferry routes will run their published schedules until Wednesday afternoon. Tolls have been waived for ferries heading from Ocracoke to Cedar Island or Swan Quarter.
Final departures from Ocracoke to Cedar Island at 1 p.m., to Hatteras at 2 p.m. and to Swan Quarter at 3:45 p.m.
The Hyde County Emergency Operations Center is now activated and will remain operational throughout the duration of this storm. If you have any concerns or need assistance call the EOC at 252-926-3715. If you need assistance with evacuation transportation please call Hyde Transit at 252-926-1637. If you have an emergency call 911.
Hyde County Government offices will be closed from Wednesday through Friday. All Hyde County convenience sites will close at 12:00 pm on Wednesday.
The Hyde County Board of Commissioners meeting scheduled for Tuesday will be postponed to a later date.
The Hyde County Emergency Services Department will continue to monitor the forecast for Hurricane Dorian and issue advisories as appropriate. For the most current and official information please monitor the National Hurricane Center website at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.