Dare County officials are issuing a mandatory evacuation for all Hatteras Island visitors starting at noon Monday, ahead of Hurricane Maria.
At 5am Monday, visitors on Ocracoke Island were ordered to evacuate. Hyde County tweeted the information Sunday evening.
Officials are advising visitors to pack all of their belongings and leave as soon as possible to avoid getting caught in the storm.
As of Monday morning, Hyde County emergency services director Jason Gibbs said that 225 people had evacuated Ocracoke Island since the 5 a.m. order went into effect. Gibbs said officials think there are about 700 visitors on the island, which has a year-round population of about 1,000 residents.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore tweeted this morning they're suspending visitors services and closing facilities ahead of tropical storm conditions.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore temporarily suspending visitor services and closing facilities ahead of tropical storm conditions. pic.twitter.com/PiOluSClIu— Cape Hatteras NS (@CapeHatterasNPS) September 25, 2017
Gibbs said the county is relying on those who rent homes on the island and the hotels to get word to visitors they need to leave.
Hurricane Maria is expected to pass about 150 miles southeast of Dare County, with high winds and many other storm-related effects.
Hatteras Island | Photo: OuterBanks.com
To make sure you are prepared for the storm, visit www.readync.org for tips and information on how you can get ready.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:
- Cape Lookout to Duck
- Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:
- North of Duck to the North Carolina/Virginia border
- North of Surf City to south of Cape Lookout
Additionally, a Storm Surge Watch is in effect for Cape Lookout to Duck.
There are no hurricane warnings at this time.
On Sunday afternoon, Dare County issued a statement advising residents to be prepared for tropical storm conditions that will reach the area on Tuesday.
"Impacts will include high winds for a long duration, dangerous surf conditions, and flooding from the ocean and sound. Dangerous surf conditions will persist throughout the week and travel impacts will occur as Maria moves off the coast," the statement says.
At 8 a.m. ET, on Monday the U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm was centered about 335 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, packing winds of 80 mph and moving north at 7 mph.
Maria's hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 70 miles from the center.
RELATED: Hurricane Guide
Puerto Rico's government called the storm the worst in a century. Havoc continues throughout the island. A dam failed and caused potentially deadly flooding on Puerto Rico's Guajataca river. The BBC reported Friday that buses were "currently evacuating people from the area as quickly as they can".
In Haiti, government authorities reported two people were killed during a lightning strike in the community of Cornillon and a 45-year-old man died while trying to cross a river Thursday morning. Authorities say northern areas of Haiti were pounded by heavy rain from Hurricane Maria.
The hurricane center said Maria is slightly weaker, but interests along the Carolina and Mid-Atlantic coasts should monitor it's progress.
Forecasters warned of continued heavy rain in Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, and parts of the Dominican Republic and Bahamas. By the time Maria's power is spent, the hurricane center said, it will have dumped up to 40 inches of rain on Puerto Rico, an amount approaching the heavy rainfall from Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
"Rainfall on these islands will continue to cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," the center said.
Puerto Rico, whose population of more than 3 million lost all electric power, was still just emerging Friday from the effects of Maria, which inundated towns and crushed homes.
The loss of power has left residents hunting for gas canisters for cooking, collecting rainwater or steeling themselves mentally for the hardships to come in the tropical heat. Some have contemplated leaving the island.
In Dominica, another hard-hit island, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit cried as he spoke to a reporter on the nearby island of Antigua. “We have buried in excess of 15 people,” he said. “It is a miracle there were not hundreds of deaths.”
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