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Perdue declares state of emergency for western NC

Monday - 10/29/2012, 5:50pm  ET

By EMERY P. DALESIO
Associated Press

KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. - Gov. Beverly Perdue issued a wider state of emergency Monday, this time for portions of western North Carolina that could see a foot of snow from a winter storm that is colliding with Hurricane Sandy.

Perdue issued the proclamation for 24 counties, two days after she issued a similar proclamation for 40 counties in eastern North Carolina because of Sandy's winds and rain.

The storm has led to flooding along the coast, shutting down N.C. Highway 12, the sole link between the southern Outer Banks and the mainland.

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather warning for the northern half of the North Carolina mountains, effective until 6 a.m. Wednesday.

"We're getting more widespread precipitation moving in from the north. Along the Tennessee-North Carolina border is where snow is falling right now," said meteorologist James Oh of the weather service office in Greer, S.C. "Snow will spread overnight over the North Carolina mountains, which will affect Asheville, too."

Up to a foot of snow is possible in the higher elevations with wind gusts of up to 65 mph. Below the peaks, 4 inches to 8 inches is expected. Light snow was already reported Monday afternoon in Jefferson in Ashe County.

As western residents prepared for their first instance of winter weather, people on North Carolina's Outer Banks were preparing for more flooding from Sandy.

Dare County Emergency Management spokeswoman Dorothy Killingsworth said officials are expecting significant flooding from Pamlico Sound, barely a year after residents had cleaned up from damages caused by Hurricane Irene.

"There's no doubt that there were still some residents here dealing with the impact from Irene," Killingsworth said. "Many repairs were made, but I can't say every single person was able to get everything back intact. Soundside flooding has people on edge."

Killingsworth said the storm's track off the coast suggested it might not have much of an impact on the Outer Banks, but Sandy proved that notion wrong.

"I do think that it caught some people by surprise," she said.

The Category 1 hurricane brought light rain and diminishing winds to the coast, but more flooding on low-lying Hatteras and Ocracoke islands was expected with high tide.

Hyde County Emergency officials say Ocracoke was inundated by more than two feet of water in some spots. Stranded visitors and residents could not move along long stretches of 70-mile-long Hatteras Island because the main highway was covered with sand and salt water as storm-driven waves punched through protective dunes. At least one oceanfront home in Rodanthe collapsed.

In Ocracoke Village, Tommy Hutcherson _ a community leader whose family has owned the Ocracoke Variety Store for 30 years _ said up to three feet of water covered streets in the village.

"Mainly what I've seen is a lot of flooding," he said. "We've got a lot of water. I mean a lot of water."

In Carteret County, Warren Ellis was among a group of surf fishermen trapped on an uninhabited barrier island. Ellis said they were buffeted through the night by tropical storm-force winds and rain but that everyone in the party was fine.

Ellis' 73-year-old father, Steven, had managed to get off Portsmouth Island near Cape Hatteras by ferry Friday. But the son and his 10-foot camper got stranded when high winds and surf forced state officials to suspend ferry service Saturday. He rode out the storm inside.

"Sandy rocked us to sleep," said Ellis, 44, of Amissville, Virginia.

In Currituck County, sheriff's deputies reported no major damage or storm- related injuries overnight Sunday and early Monday, spokesman Rod Edwards said.

Damage assessment teams started touring the county after sunrise.

There was sporadic localized flooding in the county, but main roadways remained passable, Edwards said.

In Corolla, N.C. 12 was clear but the 4-wheel drive beach road was not passable.

The state Transportation Department closed the bridge over Oregon Inlet because inspectors determined a loose section of railing made it unsafe for traffic.

In Buxton, an unincorporated community on Hatteras Island, Conner's Supermarket co-owner Travis Salyers said there was no water inside his store but noted that many residents were stuck inside their homes because of mounting waters outside.

"It's a waiting game," he said.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)