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Dare County emergency officials prepare for potential Isaias impact even with COVID-19 challenges

Emergency teams on the Outer Banks say preparations will be ready for before Tropical Storm Isaias rolls through the area.

DARE COUNTY, N.C. — Emergency officials in Dare County are monitoring Tropical Storm Isaias closely.

On Thursday, Bobby Outten, the manager of Dare County said they don’t know enough about the storm to make a decision on a response, but they want people to begin paying attention to how the storm develops.

Outten said Dare County Emergency Management has preparations underway and they’ll be completed by Friday.

Those preparations include moving county vehicles to higher ground, having emergency personnel on standby, and rearranging where they’ll place Emergency Medical Services vehicles.

RELATED: Tropical Storm Isaias forecast to pass Outer Banks, Hampton Roads

Outten said emergency officials will announce a response and potential evacuation order Saturday morning, once they have a better idea of how the storm is tracking.

“The headline is to pay attention right now,” Outten said. “We don’t know enough to tell anybody what to expect or how to change their behavior. I would say just go ahead and make preparations and just be ready. That way, when we make an announcement Saturday, you’re not in a rush.”

Outten said COVID-19 has posed a challenge for emergency officials as they prepare for hurricane season.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of hurricanes, but never a hurricane where we have COVID-19 part of it to take into account. It’s certainly different,” said Outten.

Evacuation orders will be different across Dare County due to the virus. There will be major changes when it comes to sheltering, too.

“If we do shelter, it would be what they call non-congregant sheltering. We wouldn’t put everybody in one room. If we did, it would be very limited from what has been in the past to ensure social distancing,” said Outten.

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Mike Chiarlone, a visitor from Philadelphia said his family lucked out and enjoyed the bulk of their vacation before the potential impact of the storm.

“Nothing really bothers me, don’t really think about COVID, and if the [storm] comes, we won’t be here,” said Chiarlone.

Outten and emergency officials warn rough surf will begin Friday and lasting through next week, but it won't be storm-related.