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Ocracoke Island reopens to visitors, Hatteras to follow Thursday afternoon

Outer Banks cleans up as Hurricane Maria moves out to sea

Heavy equipment operators repair sand dunes and Outer Banks residents begin recovery from Hurricane Maria as the storm tracks eastward out to sea Wednesday, September, 27, 2017.
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Heavy equipment operators repair sand dunes and Outer Banks residents begin recovery from Hurricane Maria as the storm tracks eastward out to sea Wednesday, September, 27, 2017.

Hyde County officials have reopened Ocracoke Island to visitors, and Dare County officials announced that visitors will be allowed back onto Hatteras Island at 1 p.m. Thursday.

The mandatory evacuation that went into effect Monday morning for visitors of Ocracoke Island, as then-Hurricane Maria neared the North Carolina coast, was lifted at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. A state of emergency for Ocracoke has also been lifted.

While the time for lifting the evacuation on Hatteras Island has been announced, a state of emergency is still in place. Motor vehicle speed restrictions on flooded roads remain in effect.

Officials are asking people to use caution traveling on N.C. 12, which still has pockets of water and sand. N.C. Department of Transportation officials may have to limit traffic to one lane in some areas while crews continue to clear roads on the island.

Sound-side ferries to Ocracoke are now operating on normal schedule, and Hatteras ferries will resume operation at 1 p.m., when Dare County’s visitor evacuation is lifted.

Dare County had also declared a state of emergency and a mandatory evacuation for all visitors on Hatteras Island on Monday morning.

“Be sure to call your accommodations provider in advance to confirm reservation and check-in details,” Dare County advised visitors in a statement Thursday morning.

Dare County said dangerous surf and rip currents are expected through the weekend, making conditions unsafe even for the most experienced swimmers. The county advises people to stay out of the ocean until conditions improve.

A Twitter video from Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, NC, shows Dimitri Maramenides catching some serious air while kiteboarding in the winds and rough waters from Hurricane Maria, now a tropical storm.

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