North Carolina Braces for Hurricane Felix
HATTERAS, N.C. (AP) _ Islanders double- and triple-tied boat moorings, nailed boards over their windows and braced for the worst today as Hurricane Felix and its 80-mph winds barreled toward North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
``I’m going to stay,″ said Joe Morris, manager of Teach’s Lair Marina on Hatteras Island. Only about 20 of 100 boats remained at the marina Tuesday.
``I feel like I’ve got a responsibility here with the boats,″ he said.
Felix was expected to hit the North Carolina coast early Thursday, said meteorologist Dan Bartholf in Newport. The heart of the unusually wide storm was 205 miles east-southeast of Cape Hatteras at 5 a.m., heading west-northwest at 14 mph.
Rainfall estimates once Felix hits land were put at 5 to 10 inches, depending on how fast the storm moves.
Hurricane warnings or advisories were issued from South Carolina to Delaware, and a tropical storm warning was posted along the New Jersey shoreline.
``This storm is very big and widespread,″ said Tom Ditt, North Carolina’s emergency management spokesman. ``It’s going to hit everywhere along the coast in some degree.″
Only two roads connect the Outer Banks to the mainland, and sand and water covered some sections of pavement as thousands of residents and tourists heeded orders to evacuate. A steady stream of bumper-to-bumper traffic thinned out by late Tuesday.
On Hatteras Island, skies thickened with heavy gray clouds and tall, white-crested waves smacked the pilings of the piers along the shore.
Water sold briskly everywhere along the coast. Shelves were bare at a Carolina Beach grocery store where 840 gallons had been sold by afternoon. At a discount store in Morehead City, nearly every shopper grabbed a jug of water before checking out.
At least four people died in rough surf since the weekend, and lifeguards closed East Coast beaches as far north as Maine. In Deal, N.J., 32 miles south of New York City, a 17-year-old surfer was found drowned Monday night in Felix-churned waves.
Hurricane Emily, which hit North Carolina in 1993 and caused extensive damage in small areas, was a Category 3 storm, with winds between 111 and 130 mph. The worst storms are rated as Category 5, with winds in excess of 155 mph. Hurricane Felix is considered a Category 1 storm, the lowest rating, but was expected to be upgraded to Category 2 when it hits the Gulf Stream today.
Felix battered Bermuda on Monday, leaving thousands of residents without electricity.
Ron Watkins, 51, owner of JoBob’s Trading Post near Rodanthe, planned to clear out. ``I just moved down here 30 days ago from Rockville, Maryland. I just bought the place. And now this,″ he said.
Watkins and other islanders taped windows to keep the glass from blowing out in strong winds.
Pete Covey, a construction worker and long-time resident of Hatteras Island, came to the Rodanthe fishing pier to see how it was standing up. He said he has worked on crews rebuilding piers after past storms.
``I’ve been here when the water’s been chest deep in the middle of Highway 12,″ he said.
``That was the last one,″ he said, referring to Emily. ``The last one cost me about $100,000.″
Morris lost three vehicles at his home in Hatteras and had some dock damage during Emily, when the water rose 4 feet above ground at the marina.
``I call those three my Emily cars,″ he said. ``I’ve got my new cars since Emily. But I’ve found some higher ground since then. These won’t be Felix-mobiles.″
Art Kirchner, captain of the Margey II, which was moored at Teach’s Lair Marina, planned to ride the storm out on the island.
``Hey, this is where the party is,″ he said.