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Mandatory evacuation issued for Hatteras as NC braces for storm

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Gov. Pat McCrory speaks during a press conference in Wilmington on preparation for Tropical Storm Arthur. Gov. Pat McCrory speaks during a press conference in Wilmington on preparation for Tropical Storm Arthur.

A mandatory evacuation of Hatteras Island has been issued for 5 a.m. Thursday, Dare County Emergency Management said Wednesday, as North Carolina's Outer Banks prepared for Arthur's approach.

All Hatteras Island residents and visitors were advised to leave as soon as possible in the daylight hours Thursday.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation said it had adjusted the schedules of ferries departing Hatteras and Ocracoke to ease congestion as the area is evacuated. Scroll to the bottom to see the altered schedule.

The evacuation notice came hours after Gov. Pat McCrory urged residents and visitors to "not put your stupid hat on" as North Carolina prepares for Tropical Storm Arthur, which is forecast to become a hurricane as it approaches the state.

At a news conference Wednesday in Wilmington, McCrory reminded people that most injuries and deaths occur before and after a storm. He urged people to not act selfishly, saying that if they put themselves in harm's way, they also endanger emergency workers who must try to rescue them.

McCrory said he has declared a state of emergency for 25 coastal and adjoining counties.

Hyde County declared a state of emergency and  a voluntary evacuation for Ocracoke Island that began Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Duke Energy prepared to respond to power outages as the storm tracked toward the North Carolina coast.

Duke Energy said Wednesday afternoon that it had moved more than 80 line workers and other support personnel to the storm area.

Duke Energy said customers can report and check power outages at duke-energy.com/storms. Customers can also call 800-419-6356.

Hyde County announced a voluntary evacuation for Ocracoke Island, which is accessible only by ferry. The evacuation took effect at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Ferry toll fees are suspended for evacuating visitors. On Wednesday, the Department of Transportation was running round-the-clock service on its Ocracoke-Hatteras ferry run in response to a voluntary evacuation order issued by Hyde County in advance of Tropical Storm Arthur.

Officials also announced Wednesday that tolls on the Ocracoke-Cedar Island and Ocracoke-Swan Quarter ferry runs will be waived until the evacuation order is lifted.

Service will continue until weather conditions make it unsafe to operate.

Also Wednesday, Attorney General Roy Cooper warned notifying businesses and consumers that the state's price gouging law is now in effect along the coast because a state of emergency has been declared because of Tropical Storm Arthur.

The counties affected are: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Gates, Hertford, Hyde, Jones, Martin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Tyrrell and Washington.

Price gouging is against North Carolina law when a disaster, an emergency or an abnormal market disruption for critical goods and services is declared or proclaimed by the governor.

New schedule for evacuation ferries:

Departing Ocracoke on July 3:

· 5 a.m.
· 6:25 a.m.
· 7:25 a.m.
· 8:45 a.m.
· 9:45 a.m.
· 11:05 a.m.
· 12:05 p.m.
· 1:25 p.m.
· 2:25 p.m.
· 3:45 p.m.
· 4:45 p.m.

Departing Hatteras on July 3:

· 5:15 a.m.
· 6:15 a.m.
· 7:35 a.m.
· 8:35 a.m.
· 9:55 a.m.
· 10:55 a.m.
· 12:15 p.m.
· 1:15 p.m.
· 2:35 p.m.
· 3:35 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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