Hundreds could be stranded as Hurricane Dorian floods North Carolina’s Outer Banks, official says

Hurricane Dorian pushed high floodwaters into parts of North Carolina’s Ocracoke Island, leaving some people stranded in their homes and prompting responders to start heading to the Outer Banks isle for rescues.

The Category 1 storm made landfall over Cape Hatteras at 8:35 a.m. ET with maximum sustained winds near 90 mph, causing flooding in parts of Hatteras and nearby Ocracoke.

Feet-high floodwaters have taken over yards outside homes on Ocracoke, social media images show. One resident, Jason Wells, snapped pictures from his home’s upper level of the virtual lake in his yard, and said the flooding “is by far the worst I have ever seen or heard about” in his 40-plus years there.

“There are people that have had knee- to waist-deep water in their houses,” he told CNN Friday morning.

“Several people were rescued from their upper floors or attics by boat, or from Good Samaritans,” Wells said.

Sheriff’s deputies, medics and emergency management workers and others are being sent to the island to help people from their homes, the Hyde County Sheriff’s Office said.

County officials plan to provide air travel off the island for people who can make it to Ocracoke’s small airport, they said. Details on when that would happen had yet to be released.

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Hundreds of people could still be on the Outer Banks, including Ocracoke, state emergency management director Mike Sprayberry said Friday morning. The state had ordered evacuations of the Outer Banks earlier this week.

Life-threatening storm surge still is possible Friday afternoon along parts of the North Carolina and Virginia coasts, forecasters said.

But Friday should be the last day Dorian inflicts serious damage in the United States, after it devastated the northern Bahamas and pounded parts of the US southeast coast.

As of noon ET, Dorian’s eye was over the Atlantic, off North Carolina’s coast, moving northeast.

It eventually will deliver rain and tropical-storm-force winds in the mid-Atlantic states later Friday and extreme southeastern Massachusetts late Friday or early Saturday, the hurricane center said.

It could be near Canada’s Nova Scotia province as a post-tropical, hurricane-strength cyclone by Saturday night.

Flooding on Ocracoke and Hatteras islands

Since Thursday, Dorian has flooded parts of the Carolinas and spawned a number of tornadoes, as well as lashed Virginia with winds and rain. More than 350,000 people were without electricity service Friday afternoon in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, according to poweroutage.us.

Parts of North Carolina may receive several more inches of rain Friday, for two-day totals up to 15 inches, forecasters said.

Floodwaters also were surrounding Deborah Lacks’ home on Ocracoke island Friday morning. Video that she shared to Twitter showed the water lapping up against the house and vehicles parked outside.

Pictures from state transportation department cameras show roads flooding on nearby Hatteras island. Responders will rescue people in the Outer Banks barrier islands as conditions allow, Sprayberry said Friday morning.

No injuries there were immediately reported, Sprayberry said.

‘We cannot let our guard down’

Earlier in the week, Dorian flattened homes and wiped out neighborhoods in the Bahamas, leaving at least 30 people dead. It then closed in on the southeastern coast of the United States, where five deaths have been blamed on the storm so far.

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People in northeastern North Carolina should take shelter and stay off the roads Friday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.

“Look out for quick rising storm surge and flash flooding at the coast. Do not try to return home until your local officials have said it is safe to do so. We cannot let our guard down,” Cooper said.

A series of watches and warnings

Storm surge began hitting the North Carolina and southeast Virginia coasts late Thursday night.

A hurricane warning was in effect late Friday morning from Bogue Inlet, North Carolina, to the North Carolina/Virginia state line.

Thursday, nearly two dozen tornadoes were reported from the outer bands of Dorian. They toppled mobile homes and left debris strewn for acres.

Tornadoes are common in the thunderstorm bands of hurricanes and tropical storms.

Tornadoes along the coast

North Carolina resident Byron Cox was in his mobile home in Emerald Isle when a tornado approached Thursday. His home was still standing, but his father’s was destroyed, he said.

“I remember hearing a loud noise. The next thing I know, the trailer started shaking. … It shook probably 10-15 seconds, real hard,” Cox, 37, said Thursday.

“All of a sudden I didn’t feel it (any) more. I looked outside, and the tornado … (was) going through the back. … Debris flying everywhere. Never saw anything like this in my entire life.”

The tornadoes extended into South Carolina, where firefighters say one damaged an unspecified number of vehicles and buildings in North Myrtle Beach.

Wayne White captured video of the funnel cloud there. He said he was checking on some properties he manages when he saw it.

“I saw the circular clouds and was going to take a little video, and the funnel came out of nowhere,” he tweeted.

South Carolina turns to recovery

Charleston’s mayor says that efforts to recover begin Friday.

“Yes, today was Dorian Day in Charleston, and I am happy to bid him farewell,” Mayor John Tecklenburg said Thursday. “To the hundreds of officials, and the outstanding citizens of Charleston, thank you. Tomorrow, we all unite as Team Charleston to recover.”

Authorities in Charleston are working to address power outages, downed trees and flooded roadways.

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