NORTH CAROLINA (WAVY) — Friday afternoon, Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Isaias for North Carolina — which is projected to go over the N.C. coast around the start of next week.

“The state Emergency Operations Center – already activated for COVID-19 – has been activated as well for Hurricane Isaias, and state and local response teams are at the ready. And today, I have declared a state of emergency to help our state prepare,” said Cooper during a briefing held on Friday afternoon.

Cooper said that while the models showing the track and destination for the hurricane vary, now is the time to prepare. He also recognized that preparations will be complicated given the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state is coordinating shelters for those who need to evacuate and have no arrangements available to them. Those who need to utilize the shelters will be screened for symptoms and given personal protective equipment such as masks. If someone has symptoms, the state will have different sheltering options available where it’s easier to isolate.

“The reason we are asking people to make shelters their last resort is because of social distancing and precautions that go along with a shelter in a pandemic,” he continued.

Details on shelters and medical information will be released in the coming days.

“With the right protection and sheltering, we can keep people safe from the storm while at the same time trying to avoid making the pandemic worse. A hurricane during a pandemic is double trouble. But the state has been carefully preparing for this scenario.”

Cooper also said that another briefing is expected for this weekend. As for evacuations, he is urging residents to follow local evacuation orders that may be issued.

Isaias is expected to reach the North Carolina coast on Monday. It’s currently in the Caribbean as a category 1 storm, and may remain that strength as it heads up the East Coast.

Friday evening, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam also issued a State of Emergency ahead of Isaias’ arrival. “Hurricane Isaias is a serious storm, and current predictions indicate that it may impact parts of Virginia as early as this weekend,” said Governor Northam.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore) is closely monitoring the projected path of Hurricane Isaias.

Ocracoke Island, Hyde County ordered a state of emergency and mandatory evacuation for all of Hyde that went into effect at 8 a.m. Friday and immediately restricted access to Ocracoke Island. The Ocracoke Campground will be closed at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

A meeting shortly after by the Ocracoke Control Group recommended a mandatory evacuation of the island to the Hyde County Board of Commissioners.

The board chose to order a mandatory evacuation for visitors first, which went into effect at noon Friday, and a mandatory evacuation order for residents and non-resident property owners that goes into effect 6 a.m. Saturday.

Only residents, homeowners, vendors and essential personnel requested by federal, state or county officials will be allowed access to the island until further notice, the county says. A re-entry pass or adequate documentation will be required.

Those on Ocracoke are urged to use the Ocracoke-Hatteras ferry route to leave, as sound-side ferry routes are operating at greatly reduced capacity due to shoaling in a key channel.

Mandatory Evacuation Ferry Information

The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division is assisting with the Ocracoke Island mandatory evacuation.

Only residents, homeowners or vendors with an Ocracoke re-entry sticker on their vehicles will be allowed on ferries inbound to Ocracoke. Priority boarding will be suspended for all vessels leaving Ocracoke, and tolls have been waived for ferries heading from Ocracoke to Cedar Island or Swan Quarter.

The Ocracoke-Hatteras route will run its published schedule, with an additional ferry making unscheduled runs as necessary. The final departure to Hatteras will be Sunday afternoon or evening depending on conditions.

The schedule for the Pamlico Sound ferry routes will be as follows:

Friday, July 31:

  • Cedar Island to Ocracoke 4:30 p.m.
  • Ocracoke to Swan Quarter 8 p.m.
  • Swan Quarter to Ocracoke 4:30 p.m., 11 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 1:

  • Ocracoke to Cedar Island 7:30 a.m.
  • Cedar Island to Ocracoke 10:30 a.m.
  • Ocracoke to Swan Quarter 1:30 p.m.
  • Swan Quarter to Ocracoke 4:30 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 2:

  • Ocracoke to Cedar Island 7:30 a.m.
  • Cedar Island to Ocracoke 10:30 a.m.
  • Ocracoke to Swan Quarter 1:30 p.m.

The Ocracoke Express passenger ferry has suspended service until further notice.

“Hurricane Isaias is approaching quickly, and has the potential to create serious flooding and storm surge on Ocracoke Island,” said Ferry Division Director Harold Thomas. “We hope everyone will heed the evacuation orders for their own safety.”

Evacuation procedures will remain in effect for all Ocracoke-bound ferries until Hyde County emergency officials lift the evacuation orders.

An increased rip current risk along all Seashore beaches is expected to begin Friday and continue through early next week. Visitors should stay out of the Atlantic Ocean until the risk of rip currents decreases.

As additional forecasts become available, the Seashore will determine whether to close the Oregon Inlet, Cape Point, and Frisco campgrounds.

For more the latest official information from the National Hurricane Center, click here, and follow WAVY’s meteorologists for the latest projections. The Hyde County Emergency Operations Center has been activated and can be reached at 252-926-3715. 

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