Outer Banks homeowners, not tourists, allowed back on islands after mandatory evacuation

  • Jason Stoogenke, WSOCTV.com
1:54 a.m. Sunday, July 30, 2017 Nation & World
Steve Earley/AP
A sign in Moyock, N.C., warns travelers that access to both Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands is restricted to residents only on Saturday, July 29, 2017. A power outage that drove tourists from two North Carolina islands wiped out a significant chunk of the lucrative summer months for local businesses. Business owners were upset that the disaster was caused by human error, not Mother Nature. The construction company drove a steel casing into an underground transmission line, causing blackouts on Ocracoke and Hatteras islands. (Steve Earley /The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

People living on two islands along North Carolina's Outer Banks are able to turn their lights back on.

But for visitors, a strict evacuation order is still in effect.

Engineers have been working nonstop to restore power for Hatteras and Ocracoke islands since Thursday when a construction company accidentally cut an electrical line.

As of Saturday morning, one generator had been restored, but there were still about 9,000 homes without power.

The Department of Transportation reports that more than 3,700 people have been evacuated, including vacationers, who, unlike homeowners, aren't allowed back.

Emergency management officials issued a mandatory evacuation order Friday for Hatteras Island visitors because of a widespread power outage that has already prompted thousands of tourists to leave Hatteras and neighboring Ocracroke Island on North Carolina's Outer Banks.

The Dare County Department of Emergency Management said in a statement Friday that the evacuation order is mandatory for all visiting Hatteras Island effective at 6 a.m. Saturday. It includes the island villages of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras.

Officials say they took that step as a safety precaution and because of growing uncertainty as to when repairs to a major transmission line would be complete. The statement says properly credentialed residents and non-resident property owners, along with essential personal and some others, would be allowed to remain. The evacuation order doesn't include any areas north of Oregon Inlet on the Outer Banks.

The county's emergency management department says it's continuing to work with utility officials to restore power to levels that would allow visitors to eventually return.

Gov. Roy Cooper issued a state of emergency for Ocracoke and Hatteras islands Thursday night.

The outage came during peak tourist season, which runs from mid-June through Labor Day.

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