Thousands of tourists evacuate North Carolina island after power outage

A “steady stream” of tourists left a North Carolina island Saturday under evacuation orders prompted by a widespread power outage, wiping out a significant chunk of the lucrative summer months for local businesses.

It could take days or weeks to repair an underground transmission line damaged early Thursday by construction crews working on a new bridge between islands. The construction company drove a steel casing into an underground transmission line, causing blackouts on Ocracoke and Hatteras islands.

Cars lined up Friday to get on ferries, the only way off Ocracoke Island, after about 10,000 tourists were ordered Thursday evening to evacuate. A second order for visitors to Hatteras Island, south of Oregon Inlet, meant up to 60,000 additional people had to evacuate starting Saturday, primarily north over the inlet bridge.

As of 2 p.m. Saturday, North Carolina ferries had evacuated about 3,800 people and 1,500 cars from both islands, according to Gov. Roy Cooper’s office.

Cooper said he called local officials to pledge state help.

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