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Hurricane Irene Lashing OBX

Hurricane Irene is moving across the Outer Banks this morning. Will Michaels reports the storm was downgraded to a category 1 hurricane, but residents are still seeing high winds and surf up and down the coast.

Irene is cutting a path along the coast between the Outer Banks and the mainland. Meteorologist John Cole is taking cover at the National Weather Service in Morehead City.

John Cole:  "In Cartaret County, they're experiencing hurricane-force winds with gusts getting close to 90 miles an hour. We're looking for a 5-7 foot surge and on top of that, 15-foot breakers. There's going to be damage along the beaches with that."
Rex O'Neal:  "We lost power at about quarter of five this morning. I just got a chance to make a pot of coffee first before it went off."
On Ocracoke Island, commercial fisherman Rex O'Neal spent the early morning hours checking on his boats.

O'Neal:  "I did see the sound there, and the sound was really rough, you know. And also, we rode over toward the ocean and you could see the foam water coming up over the ramp that goes over to the ocean. We couldn't get to the ocean, but you could see the foam coming up."
Just down the road, Tommy Hutcherson owns the Ocracoke Variety Store. He says roads are mostly clear, but Irene has already dumped at least 4 inches of rain on the island and winds are whipping through the marina.

Tommy Hutcherson:  "I just had to bail a boat out. My step-son's got a big boat rental business and a parasail business and a gust hit me, I mean a good gust. And it's not any fun being out there, I can tell you that."

The storm is still swirling toward the northern Outer Banks. Dare County spokeswoman Katherine Bryan says she's keeping an eye on conditions there.

Katherine Bryan:  "We've got some significant overwash in the Rodathne area on NC 12. We've had some scattered reports of power outages but not many. And so far no damage reports. We are getting the typical downed tree limbs across roads, but nothing so far. We've still got emergency services able to respond at this point."

And Dare County spokeswoman Dorothy Toolan says they're still bracing for the worst of the storm in Manteo.

Dorothy Toolan:  "Hatteras Island will see the eyewall begin to move in and once those hurricane force winds begin to reach the area, they could remain with us for up to 12 hours. So it's going to be a very long day."

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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