Tourists evacuate N Carolina island; local businesses hurt


Most were able to drive off Hatteras Island, which is served by the only major bridge to the islands, while the rest have slowly made their way off Ocracoke by ferry. They'd been warned about a power outage in the Outer Banks on Friday as they departed, but it wasn't until Saturday morning, when they were almost halfway there, that they found out their rental had been canceled.

10,000 tourists were evacuated last week during the peak of the summer travel season. "We know that they're getting frustrated, but we just really appreciate their patience".

In the meantime, there's nothing to do but wait. "Until that happens, we can't even get an estimate on how long it could be", he said.

On Hatteras, in Dare County, officials could not estimate how many people had left by vehicle or boat since the order went into effect there on Saturday morning.

Flythe said crews are working on both plans until it's clear which is fastest and safest.

Crews at the south end of the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet were still trying to locate one of two damaged underground cables Monday, but an influx of water was slowing down progress.

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Like Ocracoke, Hatteras Island has been dealing with blackouts from the outage.

Some were excavating the damaged cables in order to splice them together, while other crews were installing an overhead transmission line for less than a mile from the Bonner Bridge to connect with existing lines. A timetable for repairs won't be known until crews determine whether either of the other cables, still buried as of Saturday afternoon, was damaged, according to Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative.

"We realize people are disappointed".

The fundraiser went ahead as scheduled Saturday night, because organizers had already ordered the fish and figured they should try to recoup their expenses, said Mary Ellon Ballance, president of the fire department's Ladies' Auxiliary.

About 9,000 customers were without power on the two islands.

In the hopes of getting people back on the beaches in the next two weeks fix crews were churning ahead on two fronts to see which method would restore the power flow faster.

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"June to August represents about 70 percent of our annual business, so you can imagine that taking out a week or two could be devastating", said Lee Nettles, executive director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau.

Crossley and her family are staying in a relative's house in North Carolina and taking day trips to salvage the rest of their vacation before heading back to CT.

More portable generators are being brought in, and officials are working to find out how bad the damage is to that transmission line that was hit. "We're just holding our breath and waiting". While generators were being brought in, they came with instructions to use power only for necessities such as refrigerators and fans so they weren't overloaded. "A lot of people did not heed that warning and did not evacuate".

"It's better for it to be eaten than go to waste", she said.

He estimated that total losses for shops, hotels and restaurants on the island could easily top $100,000 per day.

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