Evacuations ordered along NC/SC coast ahead of looming Dorian

OUTER BANKS, N.C. — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said evacuations of his state's coast are going well as Hurricane Dorian threatens.

The evacuation order for 820,000 people living along the entire South Carolina coast went into effect at noon on Monday.

[MORE: Record-setting Dorian keeps pounding Bahamas before eyeing Southeast coast]

South Carolinians can use the "Know Your Zone" tool on the South Carolina Emergency Management  Division website to find out whether they are in evacuation zones.

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Evacuation shelter locations will be available on SCEMD's website and in the SC Emergency Manager mobile app as soon as they are opened.

McMaster said transportation officials reversed all lanes of Interstate 26 about four hours earlier than planned Monday after noticing traffic jams from evacuees and vacationers heading home on Labor Day.

Officials were encouraging people to leave before tropical storm-force winds arrive on Hilton Head Island sometime Wednesday and move up the coast for 24 hours.

McMaster ordered coastal schools and government offices closed Tuesday, but said he would wait and see how many schools might be needed for shelters before talking to districts about canceling classes in inland areas later this week.

The SCDOT has suspended the collection of tolls on the Cross Island Parkway as of 9 a.m. on Monday until further notice.

Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall said, “This action  supports public safety efforts in evacuation and recovery operations in Beaufort County.”

Hall added that the suspension of tolls allows for the free, uninterrupted flow of traffic on the CIP.

Evacuation orders issued for many North Carolina coastal areas 

Dorian's effects may be felt in the Wilmington area by Thursday evening, if not sooner.

Mandatory evacuations for visitors began Tuesday morning in Hyde County, which includes Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Tracking the Tropics]

Officials said full-time residents on Ocracoke Island must evacuate on Wednesday at 5 a.m.

The tiny island, sometimes called the pearl of the Outer Banks, is a tourist destination for thousands in summer months and is only accessible by boat or plane. The island's full-time resident population is about 700.

Mandatory evacuations will also take place Wednesday morning in Currituck County at 8 a.m.

Voluntary evacuations are in effect for Duplin and Onslow counties.

A mandatory evacuation order has also been issued for residents and visitors of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach and Figure Eight Island, which is a barrier island, beginning on Wednesday at 8 a.m.

New Hanover County and City of Wilmington residents in areas prone to flooding or storm surge, as well as residents in travel trailers, mobile homes or homes still damaged from Hurricane Florence are under a voluntary evacuation beginning on Wednesday at 8 a.m.

One to three feet of storm surge, with potential of higher localized areas, is expected near the county's major waterways including the Cape Fear River and Intracoastal Waterway, as well as inland along the county's creeks including Pages, Howe, Bradley, Hewlett's, Whiskey, Motts, Barnard, Burnt Mill, Smith and Ness Creeks. Residents in these areas are under a voluntary evacuation, and a more detailed list of those creeks and their locations can be found here.

Residents can also look up their address on the storm surge forecast map to know if they are in one of these surge-prone areas here.

Emergency management officials announced a state of emergency Monday afternoon for areas in Dare County.

This includes the towns of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, Manteo and all "unincorporated areas" including Hatteras Island, Roanoke Island and the Dare mainland.

Officials said a mandatory evacuation has been issued for Dare County visitors starting Tuesday at 12 p.m. Residents will be under a mandatory evacuation order starting Wednesday at 6 a.m.

Tuesday afternoon, North Carolina Roy Cooper issued a mandatory evacuation order for the barrier islands stretching from the Virginia state line to the South Carolina state line.

The order will go into effect Wednesday at 8 a.m.

“Please listen to and follow all evacuation orders,” Cooper said. “We have seen the life and death effects of this storm in the Bahamas, and we urge everyone on the islands at the coast to leave.”

The town of Atlantic Beach declared a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Dorian as well, but issued a voluntary evacuation order, according to our news partners WCTI.

The voluntary evacuation order went into effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

The sites of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve will close to visitors at dusk on Tuesday until further notice to protect public safety from the potential risk of downed trees, flooding and other hazards.

The sites include:

  • Currituck Banks Reserve near Corolla
  • Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve in Kitty Hawk
  • Emily and Richardson Preyer Buckridge Reserve near Columbia
  • Buxton Woods Reserve on Hatteras Island
  • Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort
  • Permuda Island Reserve near Topsail Island
  • Masonboro Island Reserve near Wilmington
  • Zeke's Island Reserve near Kure Beach
  • Bald Head Woods Reserve on Bald Head Island
  • Bird Island Reserve near Sunset Beach

The Charlotte Motor Speedway is opening its campgrounds for people evacuating from the storm, which is something the speedway usually does every time there's a major hurricane impacting the Southeast.

Channel 9 spoke with two people who were from different parts of Florida and on family road trips.

"We figured why go back? Why don't we go over to Charlotte and hang there instead of riding it out," Joe Yeckel said.

Evacuees are asked to check in at the Camping World Racing Resort office (6600 Bruton Smith Boulevard, Concord), which can be accessed at the entrance to zMAX Dragway. After-hours check-ins can be made in the camping section on the speedway's website. Guests can also reach the camping office by phone at 704-455-4445.

UNC Wilmington cancels classes

UNCW has canceled classes for the remainder of the week. The university has also issued a mandatory campus evacuation for students.

All students must be evacuated from campus by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, according to a campus email issued to faculty, staff and students.

Students who are currently out of the area for the holiday weekend are advised to remain where they are.

For employees, campus will operate on a regular schedule on Tuesday.

The campus will close at 5 p.m. Tuesday. UNCW will continue to monitor the situation and will announce the date classes will resume and the campus will reopen as soon as a decision is made.

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