Outer Banks braces for Florence

Published 3:45 pm Monday, September 10, 2018

By Kari Pugh and Gregory Clark

Cars lined up and gas stations ran out of gas after Dare, Hyde and Currituck counties issued mandatory evacuation orders ahead of Hurricane Florence.

At the Speedway station in Manteo, the pumps ran out of regular unleaded by 10:30 a.m. and out of premium by early afternoon. A truck carrying 8,500 gallons showed up around 2 p.m. and driver Milton Dickerson was the hero of the hour for those waiting in line.

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At the Manteo waterfront marina, all but four or five boats had pulled out late Monday morning for safer harbor. The rest, who live on their boats, planned to ride it out.

Fleming Carroll, who has lived at the marina on his sailboat for two and a half years, said he’d stay on his boat if the storm hit the Outer Banks as a category one or two. Otherwise he planned to get in his truck and drive west.

“I’m thinking I might lose this boat,” he said.

On Monday morning, some charter boats were still out fishing although marina operators on Hatteras and Nags Head said they expected they wouldn’t be out on the open ocean very long.

One operator said the captains would evaluate the weather threat when they got back to the dock. Other boats had already left.

At Bluewater Yacht Storage in Wanchese, they have been booked solid since Friday. A spokesperson says boaters don’t any longer wait around as a storm approaches. Past experience has shown them boat storage yards fill up quickly. Owners haul the boats out days ahead of a storm’s approach to protect their luxury yachts or fishing boats.

The sheltered marina in Coinjock on the Intracoastal Waterway expects boats home ported in Dare County to fill the marina by tomorrow. Coinjock Marina owner Louis Davis says dock space has been reserved for about 20 boats including Coast Guard boats. He suggests boaters keep an eye on this storm and either haul their crafts out or seek safe shelter.

A check of Hatteras Island marinas reveals many boats have left or plan to leave but others are still at the dock and their owners will tie up and hope for the best. One marina operator said in her experience many of the Captains will never evacuate.

The Town of Manteo Marina and the and the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center located on National Park Service land can both order mandatory evacuations. Marina interests at both places say most will leave with or without an order. In Manteo, Dockmaster Carl Jordan says, most every boat is going or gone. Norma York at Oregon Inlet said very few of the fleet will ride it out. She said most of the boat Captains have decades of experience. She added this isn’t their first rodeo and they will protect life and property.

Florence is forecast to be a major hurricane. The exact track and landfall are still uncertain but Dare County boat owners and captains appear to believe it is better to be safe than sorry.