CAPE CARTERET — As Thursday morning turned into afternoon and Hurricane Dorian continued to move up the Atlantic Coast toward Carteret County, folks were hunkering down in the western towns.
Mayor Dave Fowler said traffic was very light on Highway 24 at 1 p.m., and most if not all businesses appeared to be closed, although he saw one gas station still operating.
The town has had a mandatory evacuation in place, as well as a curfew that goes into effect tonight.
Mayor Fowler said he didn’t think many people heeded the evacuation.
“Honestly, I believe most have stayed,” he said. “We gave them all the warnings we could, but people are going to do what they want to do.”
“The weather is fairly calm now,” the mayor added, and had been since the tornado that damaged the Boardwalk RV Park in Emerald Isle was spotted over the tree line along Manatee Drive.
“But it’s just a matter of time,” the mayor said before conditions rapidly deteriorate.
“We’ve staged everything we can, and we’re ready to do whatever we need to do.”
Town police are on full alert, and town staff is inside the boarded-up town hall on Dolphin Street at its intersection with Highway 24.
Some of the vendors in town have brought in basic food and drink for those who are working, he said, which is much appreciated.
“The town hall looks like NASA,” Mayor Fowler said. "Zach (Town Manager Zach Steffey) has brought in all his high-tech equipment, and he’s keeping me abreast of everything.”
In Emerald Isle, Mayor Eddie Barber said at 1:15 p.m. it was hard to get a good sense of how many people heeded the mandatory evacuation and left town.
“I think a good many did leave. There was a lot of traffic (headed out) Wednesday,” the mayor said Thursday.
“But I know a lot did stay. I’m hoping more will leave by 7,” when the curfew goes into effect and no one is supposed to leave his or her own property.
The tornado damage, he said, was very bad, and everyone pitched it to clean it up as best possible given the time constraints and conditions.
The town, Mayor Barter said, has done all it can do to get ready to and keep people safe.
“We’re expecting the worst and hoping for the best,” he said.
Cedar Point Mayor Scott Hatsell said about the same thing Thursday afternoon.
“I’m sitting on my porch right now; I just tied up my boat in the yard. But I’ve been out a couple of times, and it’s really pretty quiet,” he said. “There’s not a lot of traffic."
Cedar Point called only for a voluntary evacuation, and the mayor said he thinks most people stayed home and made preparations to ride out the storm.
“The one thing that surprised me the most, I think, is how few people boarded up windows,” he said. “I think I saw only about four boarded up.
“I hope people are taking this seriously. But hopefully it will stay offshore and move out of here fast once it gets here.”
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.