Ocracoke - As Hurricane Matthew approaches, the N.C. Department of Transportation's Ferry Division is assisting with the phased evacuation of Ocracoke Island. Hyde County issued a mandatory evacuation order for island visitors beginning at 5 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, to be followed by a mandatory evacuation for all residents at 5 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 6.
On Wednesday, only residents, property owners, vendors and critical infrastructure providers with Ocracoke re-entry documentation will be allowed on ferries inbound to Ocracoke. On Thursday, only emergency personnel and vendors will be allowed onto the island.
Priority boarding will be suspended for all vessels leaving Ocracoke Wednesday morning, and tolls will be waived for ferries heading from Ocracoke to Cedar Island or Swan Quarter. All ferry service to and from Ocracoke will end Thursday night at midnight to allow all ferries and ferry personnel to find safe harbor from the storm.
"Safety is our first priority, and we hope all of Ocracoke's visitors and residents take this storm seriously and evacuate as soon as they can," said Ferry Division Assistant Director Jed Dixon, "Hurricane Matthew has already shown its destructive potential, and everyone on Ocracoke should make plans to get out of its path."
Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency on Monday, urging residents and visitors to be prepared for heavy rains, flooding and the possibility of hurricane-force winds when Matthew passes through the state over the weekend.
Evacuation procedures will remain in effect for all Ocracoke-bound ferries until Hyde County emergency officials lift the evacuation order.