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Tourists to Be Evacuated in Alex's Wake

August 05, 2004|From Associated Press

OCRACOKE, N.C. — Thousands of tourists stranded on this barrier island with no electricity or running water were told Wednesday to evacuate to give residents a chance to make repairs and clean up after the glancing blow struck by Hurricane Alex and its 100 mph wind.

Alex was stronger than expected when it grazed North Carolina's Outer Banks on Tuesday, blacking out thousands of customers and sending trash bins and debris floating along flooded roads. Ocracoke Island, south of Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks chain of low-lying barrier islands, bore the brunt of Alex's rain and heavy wind.

"It blew a whole lot harder than what people expected," said Ollie Jarvis, who owns Dillon's Corner, a souvenir and tackle shop. "Last week we weren't even thinking about it. It came up on us quick."

State officials estimated Wednesday that 6,000 to 8,000 tourists would be evacuated from the island, which is accessible only by ferry. The island has about 800 full-time residents.

"We hate to evacuate anybody on their vacation," Gov. Michael F. Easley said. "But at the same time, you can't just let people stay in what we know are unsafe conditions."

About 300 cars belonging to tourists were damaged by flooding. No injuries were reported, but power remained out. A generator provided electricity to half the island at a time, switching every two hours.

Wednesday night Alex was centered about 980 miles southwest of Cape Race, Newfoundland, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. It had maximum sustained winds of 105 mph, and was moving toward the east-northeast at about 18 mph.

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