Ocracoke - As Hurricane Hermine approaches, the N.C. Department of Transportation's Ferry Division is assisting with the evacuation of non-residents from Ocracoke Island. Hyde County issued a mandatory evacuation order for island visitors on Thursday afternoon.
Only residents, homeowners or vendors with an Ocracoke re-entry sticker on their vehicles will be allowed on ferries inbound to Ocracoke. Priority boarding has been suspended for all vessels leaving Ocracoke, and tolls have been waived for ferries heading from Ocracoke to Cedar Island or Swan Quarter.
"We encourage all visitors on the island to calmly evacuate Ocracoke as soon as possible," said Ferry Division Director Ed Goodwin. "We will be running as many boats as we can on the Hatteras route tonight and tomorrow until conditions are no longer safe for our passengers and staff."
Governor Pat McCrory declared a State of Emergency on Thursday, urging residents and visitors to be prepared for heavy rains, possible flooding and gusty winds as Hermine passes through the state Friday night and early Saturday.
"Safety is our top concern," continued Goodwin. "If weather conditions deteriorate, we may have to suspend service."
Evacuation procedures will remain in effect for all Ocracoke-bound ferries until Hyde County emergency officials lift the evacuation order.
Cars line up to depart from the Ocracoke Ferry Terminal on Sept. 1, 2016.