Arthur leaves many without power

From staff, wire reports

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Local and state officials say tens of thousands of people are without power now that Hurricane Arthur has left the state.

State Emergency Operations spokesman Rick Martinez said as of this morning, 41,500 customers remain without power because of Arthur. He said Carteret County had 11,000 outages, the most of any county.

Several utilities provide electricity to coastal North Carolina, including Duke Energy, Dominion Power and ElectriCities. Tideland EMC said on its Facebook page that it likely will be Sunday before power is fully restored on Ocracoke Island.

Transportation Department officials said on their Facebook page they haven’t been able to assess damage on N.C. Highway 12 on Hatteras Island. The Bonner Bridge which connects the island to the rest of the state also must be inspected before it’s reopened.

Meanwhile, officials in some coastal communities and counties reported ew problems after Hurricane Arthur passed through the state.

Emerald Isle along the Bogue Banks reports on its website the July 4th fireworks are still scheduled for this evening. The curfew also is lifted.

Dare County officials say the northern end of the county where Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk are located has reopened. Hatteras Island on the southern end remains closed because of flooding on North Carolina Highway 12

Beaufort County Emergency Management Director John Pack told WRAL-TV that the county “fared very well” with the main problem being trees blocking roads and bringing down power lines. He says roads are open now.

Hurricane Arthur arrived on the North Carolina coast overnight, bringing with it hurricane force winds of 100 mph, a Category 2 storm, heavy rainfall and significant flooding.

The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season’s turn north and westward on Thursday brought the Category 1 hurricane much closer to the coast than was originally projected.

Originally, the hurricane was only expected to skip past Cape Hatteras.

The turn northwest, however, meant Arthur’s effects were expected to be much more severe.

Gale force winds on Hatteras Island were expected to start by 8 p.m. Thursday and be over the northern Dare County beaches by 10 p.m. Hurricane force winds of up to 74 mph were expected on Hatteras Island by 1 a.m. today and on the northern beaches by 2:30 a.m.

That news prompted Dare County officials to warn residents to prepare for significant ocean overwash and soundside flooding throughout the county. It also had the county establishing “refuges of last resort” at First Flight Middle School in Kill Devil Hills and the Dare County Center in Manteo. Residents and visitors were urged to bring only necessities with them to the centers.

n Currituck, officials were expecting sustained winds of between 40 and 45 mph in lower Currituck by 1:30 a.m., and hurricane-force winds around 4 a.m., at the peak of the storm.

While Currituck didn’t open any shelters, it was advising residents, particularly in beach areas, to stay in place during the storm. They noted that conditions likely would make the beach road in northern Currituck impassable.

In Pasquotank and Camden, the National Weather Center was calling for winds of 45 to 55 mph this morning, with gusts up to 75 mph. In Chowan, Gates and Perquimans counties, winds of between 30 and 35 were expected, with gusts of 45 mph.

Along with the winds, Arthur was projected to bring plenty of rain: 2-5 inches of it in Currituck, Pasquotank and Camden counties; less — between 1 and 3 inches — in Chowan, Gates and Perquimans counties.

Also expected were storm surges of 1-2 inches, waves of 12-18 feet in the ocean and 2-4 feet in Currituck Sound, and 1 to 3 feet of storm surge.

Currituck officials were advising residents late Thursday to expect localized flooding, downed trees, heavy surf and minor beach erosion.

Residents across the region were also advised to be aware of the possibility of power outages. Both Dominion Power and Albemarle Electric Membership Corp., which serve the majority of the customers in the areas expected to be hardest hit, said late Thursday they were stationing crews to be able to respond to the outages.

Elizabeth City officials also announced Thursday that they would partially activate an emergency operations center at 11 p.m. as a precautionary measure.

City Manager Rich Olson said the latest weather reports at 5 p.m. had Arthur still headed north, putting the Albemarle area more in the hurricane’s bull’s eye.

“We’re still believing that it’s going to shift back to the east,” he said.

That belief apparently moved city officials to announce Thursday afternoon that this year’s Fourth of July celebration will go on as planned this evening starting at 6 p.m. Fireworks will be held at 9:10 p.m.

Even though the worst of the storm was expected east of Elizabeth City, local residents were still stocking up on storm kits Thursday.

Walmart spokeswoman Betsy Harden said business at both the company’s Elizabeth City and Kitty Hawk stores had been brisk. Customers were mostly stocking up on items like batteries and water, Harden said.

However, many customers were also apparently planning for this afternoon, when the storm was expected to leave the region. Both stores reported good sales of holiday-related items, including barbecue foods, watermelons and sun tan lotion, Harden said.

“So, it sounds like folks are still optimistic that they may be able to get in a good holiday weekend here as well,” she said.

The storm also was providing an unexpected windfall for area hoteliers.

Charles Diliello, manager of the Comfort Inn, said the storm initially looked like it was going to hurt his hotel, as travelers planning to visit the Outer Banks for the Fourth of July had called and canceled their room reservations.

Diliello said the Comfort Inn’s circumstances quickly changed, however, when vacationers who had already been at the Outer Banks decided to flee Arthur and stay overnight at his hotel.

Diliello said Thursday that only 10 of the hotel’s 79 rooms remained vacant. He estimated at least 20 were filled by guests from the beach fleeing the storm.

“The people from the north cancelled and the ones coming from the south booked them,” he said.