Visitors abandon vacations as Maria nears Carolinas
Thousands of visitors abandoned their vacation plans and left North Carolina’s Outer Banks ahead of Hurricane Maria as it moved northward in the Atlantic, churning up surf and possible flooding.
The hurricane that battered the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico last week has weakened, with maximum sustained winds Tuesday near 120 kilometres per hour. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Maria was expected to keep weaken into a tropical storm Tuesday night or Wednesday.
While Maria’s eye remained far offshore — centred about 285 kilometres southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, Tuesday and moving north at 11 kph — a tropical storm warning was in effect for a swath of the North Carolina coast, from Bogue Inlet to the Virginia border, and the hurricane centre warned of a storm surge from Ocracoke Inlet to Cape Hatteras.
In North Carolina, officials estimated more than 10,000 visitors complied with evacuation orders for Hatteras and Ocracoke, both barrier islands jutting into the Atlantic.
Dare County Emergency Management Director Drew Pearson said it was hard to determine exactly how many people had left Hatteras Island, but officials believe between 10,000 and 12,500 people were headed out.