Evacuations are underway on Ocracoke Island ahead of Hurricane Irene. Lucy Wallace is spokeswoman for the Ocracoke Ferry Office.
Lucy Wallace: "I mean we started at 5 am this morning assisting with the evacuation. Our ferries were probably a half to 3 quarters full and we're going to keep on running our schedules to get everybody off that wants to get off until such time as it becomes too dangerous for us to operate, when the winds pick up enough that we will have to tie up our boats for safety. "
The evacuations have been mandatory for visitors and tourists. There is a mandatory evacuation for residents going into effect at 5 am tomorrow. Ferry service will continue until Friday. Ocracoke District Ranger Kenny Ballance says many people are planning to stay even with a mandatory evacuation.
Kenny Ballance: "I would say we probably have around a thousand to 1200 local residents that live on Ocracoke Island now. And I would probably say maybe 3 or 400 is planning to leave. The rest are planning to stay. That's from what I understand from the amount of people that we know of that are leaving at this time. "
Ballance says that could change if conditions deteriorate. Ocracoke Variety Store owner Tommy Hutcherson is planning to stay.
Tommy Hutcherson: "You know and we'll keep the store open. We'll keep it open as long as we can. We try not to shut down for very long during these events. We'll shut down during the major storm and we'll be open before and we'll be open after. "
TradeWinds Bait and Tackle Owner Alan Sutton hasn't committed one way or the other.
Alan Sutton: "Don't know for sure right now. If I had to guess, I'd guess that my wife and children will leave and I will probably stay. Although, I don't like to say I'm staying until the last ferry's left and I'm still here. "
Hutcherson says people spent the day yesterday getting prepared.
Hutcherson: "Well on the island, a lot of people are just batting down the hatches, just kinda pulling in loose debris from around their stores and their houses, you know wood... just cleaning up, just trying to get objects that would be flying around to put them into a shed or tie them down. People pullin boats up and just and just clearing up general debris around the island. "
Hutcherson says he saw mostly normal shopping yesterday, but he expects people will start to stock up on supplies today and tomorrow. He says residents are monitoring the storm and many may decide to go if conditions worsen.