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North Carolina Escapes Major Damage From Arthur; Businesses Hope to Salvage Holiday Weekend

By Sean Breslin
Published: July 5, 2014

Businesses on two of North Carolina's barrier islands hoped to salvage the rest of the holiday weekend after Arthur clipped the state without causing major damage before churning north toward Canada and losing strength early Saturday morning.

The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm as its winds weakened to 70 mph Saturday. 

Arthur made landfall along the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a Category 2 storm Thursday night, packing winds of 100 mph. The storm flooded some homes and businesses, toppled trees and initially left thousands without electricity, but no deaths or serious injuries were reported. 

(MORE: Strong Winds, Heavy Rain Spread Toward Canada)

The hurricane's effects were mostly confined to Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, and some vacationers were already back on beaches to the north and south on Friday. But the ocean churned by Arthur remained dangerous Saturday with the risk of rip currents able to wash the strongest swimmer to sea. That didn't stop thousands of people from enjoying the sun and sand and leaving lifeguards to remind beach-goers of the danger.

"We're going to try to keep people out of the water and keep them safe," said David Elder, lifeguard supervisor for the town of Kill Devil Hills. "However, if conditions abate, I'd be glad to drop" the no-swimming warning. More than 600 of the 700 lifeguard rescues by Elder's department last year were required because of rip currents, he said.

Permanent residents of island towns stretching from Rodanthe to Hatteras were allowed to return, along with employees of businesses that need to get ready to accommodate arriving tourists onto the island closed to arrivals since early Thursday.

The only road onto Hatteras Island was reopened to residents and brought the imminent promise of renewed tourism. A small section of fragile North Carolina Highway 12 buckled after being submerged by churning waters during the Category 2 hurricane. Officials also tested the two-mile-long Bonner Bridge onto the island to ensure it was safe for traffic.

Local authorities allowed unrestricted access to the island by 4 p.m. Saturday. Many vacationers were due to start their week-long cottage rentals on Saturday.

(MORE: The Latest Forecast for Arthur | Tropical Update)

Beaufort County Emergency Management Director John Pack told WRAL-TV that the county "fared very well" with the main problem being trees blocking roads and bringing down power lines. He said roads are open now.

Manteo also reported flooding, which forced the closure of U.S. 64 from Manteo to Nags Head. Social media images from eyewitnesses showed the sea breaching the coastline and flooding the roadway in Roanoke Sound Friday morning.

Farther south, Ocracoke Island's electricity distribution system was badly damaged by Arthur, leading officials to order residents to quit using air conditioners and water heaters so that generator-supplied power could provide refrigeration and other necessities during a cycle of planned outages. A nightly curfew between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. was declared until power was fully restored. Vacationers were being coaxed to leave with the offer of free ferry rides out.

Though mandatory evacuations had been issued in Dare County on Thursday, an official told the Weather Channel the vast majority of the Outer Banks' 60,000 residents did not evacuate.

(MORE: South Carolina Mostly Spared By Arthur's Impacts)

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

MORE: Images of Hurricane Arthur and Its Impacts

Fairhaven, MA

Fairhaven, MA

Residents attempt to move a car out of a flooded street in Fairhaven, MA (Photo: Twitter/thatshawesome)

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