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Hurricane Arthur makes landfall at Outer Banks

By EMERY P. DALESIO

KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (AP) - A strengthening Hurricane Arthur forced thousands of vacationers on the North Carolina coast to abandon their Independence Day plans while cities farther up the East Coast rescheduled fireworks displays threatened by rain from the storm.

Arthur strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane Thursday night, its winds strengthening to 100 mph before it made landfall near the southern end of the Outer Banks. Little change was expected in the storm's strength Thursday night and Friday, and Arthur was expected to weaken as it travels northward and slings rain along the East Coast.

The annual Boston Pops Fourth of July concert and fireworks show were held Thursday night because of potential heavy rain from Arthur, while fireworks displays in New Jersey, Maine and New Hampshire were postponed until later in the weekend.

Arthur reached land late Thursday between Cape Lookout and Beaufort, North Carolina, near the southern end of the Outer Banks, a 200-mile string of narrow barrier islands with about 57,000 permanent residents.

The islands are susceptible to high winds, rough seas and road-clogging sands, prompting an exodus that began Wednesday night.

Among the tourists leaving Hatteras Island were 27-year-old Nichole Specht and 28-year-old Ryan Witman of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The couple started driving at 3:30 a.m. Thursday on North Carolina Highway 12, the only road on and off Hatteras.

"We were just saying we were really, really lucky this year that the weather was so great, and then this," Specht said as she ended a two-week vacation.

Many island residents, meanwhile, decided to ride out the powerful storm rather than risk losing access to homes connected to the mainland by a highway prone to washouts.

"All the people that I know who live here are staying put," said Mike Rabe, who planned to stay in his Rodanthe home despite an evacuation order for surrounding Hatteras Island.

In the last hours before the hurricane's approach late Thursday, Lena Lines helped to move furniture from the basement to the first floor of the home she shares with her parents to save it from possible flooding. They live in a complex of canals and sound-front homes in the shadow of a memorial to the Wright Brothers, who made the first powered flight in Kill Devil Hills.

If you live in that neighborhood, "it's undeniable, you're going to get flooded" during a storm like this, Lines said.

Dave Gillis, who does maintenance work at Harris-Teeter grocery stores, was attaching sections of galvanized sheet metal over the glass wall at the entrance of a Kill Devil Hills location just as rain started to fall sporadically at 10:30 pm.

"We're just getting to it," he said. "We've had a pretty busy day."

The departures of vacationers left things "pretty dead" on Hatteras Island during the normally bustling run-up to the Independence Day weekend, Rabe said. He spent Thursday running errands and helping neighbors prepare their homes for the storm.

Before the storm hit, tourism officials had expected 250,000 people to travel to the Outer Banks for the holiday weekend. Gov. Pat McCrory sought to strike a balance between a stern warning to vacationers and optimism that part of the busy weekend could be salvaged.

"Of course, this holiday weekend, the July 4th weekend, is one of the biggest weekends for coastal tourism in the state, and we anticipate a beautiful weekend after ... Hurricane Arthur is out of North Carolina," he said.

Arthur, the first named storm of the Atlantic season, prompted a hurricane warning for much of the North Carolina coast. On the Outer Banks' Ocracoke Island, accessible only by ferry, a voluntary evacuation took place.

Among those leaving the island was the Unmussig family of Midlothian, Virginia. They cut their vacation two days short when they left Thursday morning in an SUV towing a trailer filled with bicycles and kayaks.

"Our cottage was right on the sound and we didn't want that back-current surge coming in and flooding us out," said Donald Unmussig, 50.

"I just didn't want to risk getting caught there. I have to work Monday morning. I didn't want to be late," he added. "We just decided to cut the losses and go home and not have to deal with the problems."

Tropical storm warnings were also in effect for coastal areas in South Carolina and Virginia and as far north as Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

On the Massachusetts island of Nantucket, no evacuations were planned, but residents who have lived through many a fierce storm said they know better than to totally relax.

"I think that for the most part it's another storm, but you never know what can happen," said Rocky Fox, who owns the Chicken Box nightclub on the island. "Being the Fourth of July weekend, things seems to be magnified."

Fox said Nantucket residents are used to being prepared.

"Mother Nature was upset with us this winter, and she may not be through. We're on an island. You can never tell what it's going to do. You prepare for the worst and hope for the best."

Early Friday morning, Arthur was located about 20 miles (30 kilometers) northeast of Cape Lookout and about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. It was moving northeast at 18 mph (30 kph).

___

Associated Press writers Martha Waggoner in Raleigh, N.C.; Tony Winton in Miami; and Matt Small in Washington contributed to this report.

Join the discussion

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patriot1too July 03 2014 at 7:00 AM

America prays that this storm does not have any effect on the great southern states and the wonderful people there.

Flag Reply +22 rate up
6 replies
tdiplaci July 03 2014 at 12:29 PM

The government should stop pouring taxpayer money into the coastlines that are habitually pounded by these storms. Stop allowing building there and have people build where there is more of a chance the buildings will last 100 years.

Flag Reply +21 rate up
7 replies
Lisa Perez July 03 2014 at 2:03 PM

I hope people have the hearts not to leave their pets behind when evacuating.

Flag Reply +20 rate up
5 replies
fred July 03 2014 at 7:08 AM

Never had hurricanes 'til you all mocked Phony Al and continued to fly your private jets and drive your SUV's. Next the glacier will recede from Illinois, Utah will no longer be under the ocean, South America will separate from Africa, a meteor will smash into Arizona and eliminate certain species, volcanoes will spew ash in the sky for decades, and the earth will reverse polarity.......oh, wait.......never mind.......:)

Flag Reply +9 rate up
10 replies
ticktockticktock1 July 03 2014 at 12:24 PM

This hurricane is rumbling through the land, searching for the administration at the White House. Sound like it's not happy with them.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
8 replies
blo2thehead July 03 2014 at 12:44 PM

Haven't heard the LBGT community demanding a hurricane be named after their group yet.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
10 replies
englishfleck July 03 2014 at 9:03 AM

Why does the Christian God hate the conservative south so much?

Flag Reply +5 rate up
23 replies
pdbliz July 03 2014 at 8:49 AM

where is AL GORE

Flag Reply +5 rate up
5 replies
ldyqtee6 July 03 2014 at 3:19 PM

When people are ordered to evacuate for their own safety and refuse, no rescue efforts should commence oce they are stuck. May sound harsh, but people need to learn that their lives are far more valuable than their possessions; material things can be replaced.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
Elizabeth ldyqtee6 July 04 2014 at 2:35 AM

For many of us, there is nowhere to go. Our instructions are to take Route 13 north (presumably to Canada), directly through the path of the hurricanes. And, no one makes any effort to assist anyone here anyway.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
finland01 July 03 2014 at 8:16 PM

Governor McGrory sounds just like the mayor in Jaws!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
2 replies
wal5we finland01 July 03 2014 at 8:28 PM

What did you expect from a dense, dopey republican?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
ccplummer finland01 July 03 2014 at 10:48 PM

still much better than that dumbocrat bev perdue

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
kyoung1501 ccplummer July 04 2014 at 5:45 AM

At least Perdue wasn't peeking out of duke
energy's pocket.

Flag 0 rate up
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