Hundreds Of People May Be Trapped On Ocracoke Island As Hurricane Dorian Ravaged The North Carolina Coast
“There’s probably not a house there that doesn’t sustain damage,” said a Hyde County official.
Hurricane Dorian whipped along the North Carolina coast Friday, making landfall in Cape Hatteras and trapping potentially hundreds of people on Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks.
“There is significant concern about hundreds of people trapped on Ocracoke Island,” Gov. Roy Cooper said at a press conference Friday. “Right now the storm is raging there."
By 5 p.m. Friday, Cooper said officials had been able to coordinate multiple missions into the island, including a team that delivered communications equipment, a medical response team of 11 people, urban search and rescue teams and personnel to assess damage and immediate infrastructure needs.
Food and water was also being flown into the area.
"The hurricane has left behind destruction," Cooper said.
Helicopters were also being deployed to help anyone who needed, or wanted to, leave the island, he added.
Hyde County on Friday tweeted that it was preparing to evacuate residents by air, asking people to call them in order to get an accurate head count.
Videos and pictures shared on social media showed significant flooding and powerful winds on the island.
The first rescuers arrived around 2 p.m. Friday according to Donnie Shumate, a spokesperson for Hyde County, which includes Ocracoke Island.
The island, which is popular with vacationers, has a year-round population of about 900 people according to Shumate. He said that most of the seasonal visitors would have left after Labor Day weekend, but the county was estimating that there were as many as 800 people still on the island.
“There’s probably not a house there that doesn’t sustain damage,” said Shumate, who added that he expected the damage to be “massive.”
State officials confirmed one death related to the storm in North Carolina, after an 85-year-old man fell while preparing for the hurricane in Columbus County.
A second man “suffered a medical emergency” and died while moving his boat in preparation for the storm, Pamlico County’s director of emergency management, Chris Murray, told NBC. However, the state medical examiner ruled that this was not an official storm-related death.
But since Dorian had struck North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper said the state had received no reports of deaths or serious injuries.
In Florida, the Medical Examiners Commission has reported six deaths linked to Dorian, Gretl Plessinger with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told BuzzFeed News in an email. One man was electrocuted while cutting trees to prevent storm damage, two men fell to their deaths while preparing their homes for the storm, and three other men collapsed while evacuating.
Officials warned that dangerous conditions would continue in the northeastern part of North Carolina throughout the day, and advised residents to stay indoors and get to the highest part of their homes in the event of flooding.
The storm dropped to a Category 1 hurricane overnight, but winds remained high as it made its way up the coast.
Katie Webster, a meteorologist with North Carolina Emergency Management, estimated that there had also been as many as 13 tornadoes in the state Thursday, but said that the likelihood of additional tornadoes had subsided.
In the Bahamas, officials said at least 30 people died after the storm made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 185 mph on Sept. 1, devastating the Abaco Islands. The official death toll is expected to rise.
Weather forecasters said the storm would head toward southern New England over the weekend. Tropical storm warnings were issued for Chesapeake Bay, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, and parts of Maine, and a tropical storm watch was in effect as far north as Nova Scotia.