ENVIRONMENT
08/24/2011 02:35 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Ocracoke Island: Hurricane Irene Headed For North Carolina Tourist Spot (PHOTOS)

As Hurricane Irene heads toward the East Coast, one of the first places the storm is expected to hit is Ocracoke Island, N.C.

The New York Daily News reports that evacuations have already begun on the 16-mile-long barrier island of Ocracoke. About 800 people live on the tourist destination and thousands travel there during summer, according to the paper.

The International Business Times explains that people can only access Ocracoke Island via boats from the mainland. Those boats can only carry around fifty people.

Newlywed Jennifer Baharek told the Times that she and her husband didn't get to spend as much time on the island as they had hoped.

"We just got to spend one day on the beach and then we went to bed early to get up for the evacuation," Baharek said.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that Ocracoke beaches will close to vehicles at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The island is part of North Carolina's Outer Banks, a 200-mile stretch of barrier islands off North Carolina's coast, according to the Associated Press. The news source reports:

The state-run ferry service off the island, which began at 5 a.m., would be free during the evacuation, but no reservations were allowed. Boats can carry no more than 50 vehicles at a time.

"We expect them to be lining up before the first ferry for Hatteras before 5," ferry terminal worker Kim O'Neal said Tuesday. "It'll be first come, first served."

Officials told residents to evacuate Ocracoke by Thursday.

Check out the photos below of people preparing for the hurricane:

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