NAGS HEAD - Visitors to the North Carolina coast on Saturday cast an eye on the winds and waves whipped up by Hurricane Sandy, although a few of them resolved to ride the storm out.
"We might not get off here until Tuesday or Wednesday, which doesn't hurt my feelings that much because the fishing's going to be really good after this storm," said Warren Ellis, 44, of Amissville, Va. "It's always good after a storm."
Ellis was stranded on an uninhabited Outer Banks island during his annual fishing trip because conditions prevented the ferry from carrying him inland. While he decided to stay in his 10-foot camper, his 73-year-old father took his larger camper off Portsmouth Island and retreated to the Coast Guard station at Cape Hatteras.
"This is my first taste of this," said Keith Paquin, 51, of Burton, Ohio, as he, Steven Ellis and his son Andrew disassembled the few fishing rod and reel sets they hoped might still land fish. "We're going far enough north that we can't get trapped."
The 11 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center said tropical storm-force winds were approaching the North Carolina coast. A tropical storm warning was in effect for the entire coast. The latest coordinates placed the center of Sandy approximately 335 miles southeast of Charleston, S.C.
Gov. Beverly Perdue on Friday declared a state of emergency for 40 counties stretching from Interstate 95 to the coast. The declaration authorizes the use of additional state government resources to help county and municipal governments.
While rains were light early Saturday, winds were building up to a predicted 30 to 50 mph, and a steady stream of campers and other vehicles hauling boats or with kayaks strapped to the roof were headed off the low-lying islands to safer ground.
As visitors took their respective approaches to the storm, local residents were preparing for power outages lasting days and fearing a temporary bridge built after Hurricane Irene last year poked a new inlet through the island could be washed out again, cutting the only road off Hatteras Island for about 4,000 residents.
The state ferry route from the south end of Hatteras Island to Ocracoke Island was suspended Saturday because of high water covering N.C. 12, the main artery for traffic on the Outer Banks.
Todd Butler, 44, rushed down from his home in Virginia Beach, Va., to tie down his 48-foot charter fishing boat at its dock in Hatteras. That done, he was returning home on Saturday.
"I was talking to some old fishermen this morning," he said. "I don't think it's going to be that bad." But better to take precautions and secure a boat too big to pull out of the water.
Retirees Larry, 72, and Jean Collier, 71, of Brantford, Ontario, were leaving their beachfront hotel in Kill Devil Hills and trying to plot their coming days of returning home, knowing they risked driving into a developing superstorm as they headed north through Pennsylvania.
"I'll try to split (the trip) right down the middle, not too close to Washington, not too far west," Larry Collier said. "The storm has kind of put a wrench in it."