EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Beach towns along the Crystal Coast are watching the storm closely, changing their plans as the First Alert forecast is adjusted. Residents are preparing for the worst but are familiar with the threat of storms.
“We’re out of our main tourist season so everyone that is here now is pretty storm savvy so they know what to look for,” says Atlantic Beach Mayor Trace Cooper.
So far, the Crystal Coast communities have not issued any evacuations but residents are already wondering what will happen if they do.
“The number one question during any hurricane event is easily ‘is the bridge open?’,” says Emerald Isle Town Manager Frank Rush. “The bridge only closes if the town has issues a mandatory evacuation with a curfew.”
There are only two ways off the island, the Emerald Isle Bridge and the Atlantic Beach Bridge. If access to the island is restricted, police guard the entrances to ensure the procedure is followed but people are always allowed to leave.
“We technically never close the bridges,” says Cooper. “That’s a little bit of a misnomer. If it’s safe to let people off the island, we will always let people leave the island. The only time we restrict any access is if and only if there’s been a mandatory evacuation. Then we’d restrict access back on to the island.”
For now, Cooper and Rush plan to keep a close eye on the storm before making any specific decisions.
“It all depends on exactly what the track of the storm is and what the wind speeds are and so forth,” explains Rush. “That’s why these things are very specific. We take each one individually.”
Town leaders met Wednesday to discuss the game plan and have another meeting schedule Friday morning. From there, residents and visitors will be updated on the plan of action.