Good morning, everyone.
And so the wait begins.
In all of my decades of living and vacationing on the Outer Banks, I cannot recall another time when Dare County issued a state of emergency and ordered mandatory evacuations of visitors and residents ahead of a hurricane that was stalled over the Bahamas—which is about 750 miles from here.
Formerly a Category 5 hurricane, Dorian, which caused substantial damage in the Bahamas, was downgraded yesterday by the National Weather Service to a Cat 2 storm. As of 11 a.m. today, it was located off of the northern Florida coast, traveling 9 mph north-northwest, according to the National Weather Service.
As you undoubtedly know, Dare County imposed mandatory evacuation on visitors, effective at noon yesterday, with the expectation being that all visitors would have departed by sunset. The County’s mandatory evacuation for residents went into effect today at 6 a.m. Needless to say, it also has temporarily banned swimming in the ocean.
I believe in being cautious and putting public safety first, but I have to question the timing of these decisions, which were made Monday afternoon by the Dare County Control Group of Dare County Emergency Management (DCEM). Evacuation orders have widespread rippling effects, especially for people who cross the Wright bridge for work or who depend on workers who cross the bridge.
Here is the text of DCEM’s bulletin about evacuations: https://www.darenc.com/Home/Components/News/News/5585/1421?backlist=%2fdepartments%2femergency-management
According to a bulletin that DCEM issued yesterday at 4 p.m., all Dare County towns are under a hurricane watch. The bulletin states that there will be unrestricted access to Dare County through today to enable people to make their evacuation plans. So, if you have to go to Elizabeth City or Chesapeake or elsewhere today, you will be able to return to your Dare County home. You will not be prevented from crossing the bridge.
Here is the text of DCEM’s Tuesday bulletin, which also includes news pertaining to all of the towns (the only Southern Shores news is that recycling is being collected today): https://www.darenc.com/Home/Components/News/News/5587/1421?backlist=%2fdepartments%2femergency-management
I have noticed a lot of questions on social media about reentry permits. A permanent resident who wishes to reenter Dare County after the county has lifted its state of emergency and mandatory evacuation orders does not need a reentry permit. He/she only needs a valid N.C. driver’s license or an identification card with a local address or a current Dare County tax bill or parcel data sheet.
Nonresident property owners who wish to reenter the county to check their homes must present either a current county tax bill or parcel data sheet with matching current government-issued identification or a reentry permit with a government ID.
You may read about reentry here: https://www.darenc.com/departments/emergency-management/hurricanes/reentry
Reentry is done in stages, with the first stage, referred to as “priority one,” restricted to reentry of essential personnel. Permanent residents and essential personnel for critical businesses may return during the priority-two stage, and nonresident property owners and nonresident employees of non-critical businesses may return during the priority-three stage. The general public and all other visitors may return during priority four.
Hurricane Dorian did widespread catastrophic damage to the Bahamas, especially in the northern islands, such as Apaco Island. The Weather Channel is reporting eight deaths as a result of the Category 5 hurricane and tens of thousands of displaced people who are in need of food and water and other disaster relief.
As of 10 a.m. today, according to the WLC, the storm was “lashing” the Florida coast, around Daytona Beach, with heavy rain and winds up to 30 miles per hour. (The reporters on the beach there did not seem to be in severe weather, quite honestly. The winds were not having a visible effect on them or their clothing.)
According to my sister, niece, and their families, who live in Jacksonville, Fla., which is north of Daytona, Dorian has been a non-event for them. They experienced “some small wind gusts” and have not lost power. None of them lives on the coast, however.
The WLC forecast for our area calls for some late-night thunderstorms today. Thursday and Friday look to be rainy days, with the heaviest rain expected on Friday. TWC is predicting a beautiful clear and sunny weekend, with highs in the low 80s.
If you need to get in touch with Dare County Emergency Management for any reason, you may call (252) 475-5655. You also may sign up to receive emergency bulletins at https://www.darenc.com/departments/emergency-management/emergency-alerts or follow DCEM on Twitter at @DareCountyEM.
Dorian’s slow-moving track is difficult to predict, but in all of the case scenarios I have heard and read, it is most likely to be a rain and storm-surge event for us. The National Weather Service issued a storm-surge warning for our area at 11:08 a.m. today.
Please feel free to comment below. Have a good week!