OCRACOKE ISLAND, N.C. (AP/WNCN) — A weakened Hurricane Dorian flooded homes on North Carolina’s Outer Banks on Friday with a fury that took even storm-hardened residents by surprise, forcing people to retreat to their attics. Hundreds were feared trapped by high water, and neighbors used boats to rescue one another.
Sheriff’s officials sent medics and other rescuers to Ocracoke Island — accessible only by boat or air — to reach those who made the mistake of defying mandatory evacuation orders along the 200-mile (320-kilometer) ribbon of low-lying islands that stick out from the Eastern Seaboard like the side-view mirror on a car.
“There is significant concern about hundreds of people trapped on Ocracoke Island,” Gov. Roy Cooper said. “There are rescue teams ready as soon as they can get in.”
Over and over, longtime residents said that they had never seen flooding so bad, or that things that had never flooded before were inundated.
“The wall of water just came rushing through the island from the sound side. And it just started looking like a bathtub, very quickly,” said Steve Harris, who has lived on Ocracoke Island for most of the last 19 years. “We went from almost no water to 4 to 6 feet in a matter of minutes.”
Leslie Lanier said via text message Friday morning that some first floors have been flooded.
But she added that the water level has started to drop. Lanier owns a bookstore on the Outer Banks island.
She said she’s OK but “nervous and worried.”
Jason Wells, also an Ocracoke Island resident, shared photos showing cars flooded.
“This is my yard – I’m on one of the highest spots on the island. It’s low tide,” he wrote.
Dorian made landfall around 8:40 Friday morning at Cape Hatteras on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
Governor Roy Cooper said in a news conference at 10 a.m. that there was concern about some people trapped on some islands at the Outer Banks. He said that there about 215,000 customers without power across North Carolina.
Cooper said that 70 roads were closed because of high water or downed trees. U.S. 264 is closed near Greenville, U.S. 117 near Castle Hayne is also closed along with 60 secondary roads, Cooper said.
At the start of the week, the storm slammed the Bahamas, killing at least 30 people and obliterating countless homes. From there, it swept past Florida and Georgia before sideswiping the Carolinas on Thursday with tornadoes that peeled away roofs and flipped recreational vehicles.