Curfew in effect for North Topsail Beach since 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Updated 10:12 p.m.
Conditions are beginning to pick up in North Topsail Beach, Town Clerk Laura Oxley said around 9:50 p.m.
“We know the eye of the storm is close to Wilmington. We expect hurricane force winds around 10,” Oxley said. “Town leadership started sleeping and resting in shifts.”
Oxley added that NTB police took “a few people to shelters,” and stressed that emergency calls will stop if conditions become too dangerous.
“But this evening, our first responders have helped a few people get to the shelter at Dixon Middle School,” Oxley said.
Updated 6:09 p.m.
North Topsail Beach is seeing overwash on the roadways and under homes on the beachfront.
North Topsail beach Town Clerk Laura Oxley said the winds have picked up throughout the afternoon, but that town officials have been concerned with overwash.
“We are starting to see some of the side roads starting to get standing water,” she said. “We’ve also had reports of downed power lines.
According to a Facebook post from the town, emergency officials who are patrolling North Topsail Beach were seeing tropical storm force winds Thursday afternoon with anticipated hurricane force winds once Hurricane Dorian continues its track north.
“We’ve had tropical force winds since about 3 p.m. and we expect hurricane force winds around 10 tonight. I think our last report probably about 90 minutes ago the winds speeds were around 40 miles per hour and we don’t think things will lighten up until around 6 in the morning.”
Oxley confirmed water and sewer services were shut down at North Topsail Beach at 3 p.m., and town officials are getting reports from police of downed power lines.
“Our main focus is educating the public,” she said. “We are putting a lot of info on our Facebook and website. We want everybody to be as safe as possible.”
Anyone with questions is encouraged to call the town's citizen phone bank at 910-328-1349 or email email@example.com. The phone bank will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until otherwise advertised, according to a Facebook post from the town.
Updated 1:46 p.m.
To preserve water and ensure crew safety, Onslow Water and Sewer Authority (ONWASA) announced via Facebook they will be disconnecting water service to Topsail Island by 3 p.m. Thursday.
This only includes the town of North Topsail Beach and ONWASA customers in Surf City, the company wrote. Crews, equipment and supplies have been staged in Sneads Ferry to access any damage and make repairs as soon as it is safe to do so.
ONWASA wrote they are also prepared to provide an emergency potable water distribution point following the storm if necessary.
Despite Governor Roy Cooper’s declaration of a mandatory evacuation for the barrier islands, North Topsail Beach Mayor Dan Tuman expressed concern about citizens staying during Hurricane Dorian.
“The big concern is everybody’s safety,” Tuman said. “I’ve been here for 30 years now and from past experience, when these kinds of storms come around, you need to get off the island. It’s a risky place during storms for flooding and winds.”
Because of that concern, Tuman said NTB announced a curfew for citizens who stayed home, effective 8 p.m. Wednesday. He reminded his townspeople that a shelter at Dixon Middle School was opened.
Tuman said he’s staying at a hotel “just off the island” as he works with the emergency control center.
The mayor hopes people heeded the advice to leave before Dorian’s effects began to hit Eastern North Carolina.
“We advised people who do leave to not leave too late because there’s only two exits off Topsail Island: the bridge at North Topsail Beach and the bridge at Surf City,” Tuman said. “Once the wind speeds reach 45 miles per hour, the bridges are unsafe and closed. We expect the winds to be around that range probably midday Thursday.”
Tuman added that those who decide to stay home risk not being able to be saved if they encounter trouble.
“If you decide to stay, if the conditions come up and you’re stranded, there’s no one there to rescue you,” he said. “That’s the message that’s gone out.”
Those who left are asked not to return to their homes “until it’s safe to cross the bridge,” Tuman said, when the town’s condition allows travel back in.
“They won’t return until the roads are safe and clear of debris and when utilities have been restored,” he said.
In a press release Onslow Water and Sewer Authority (ONWASA) wrote it will discontinue water utility service at NTB as winds reach 45 miles per hour Thursday and emergency crews would be unable to safely respond to main breaks at those wind speeds.
Tuman said the fire stations and public works buildings are secure, adding those structures “did OK during Florence.”
Tuman said there is a call center set up where people can call in and talk to town staff and aldermen. The number is 910-328-1349 or you can email/text to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We will provide whatever information that we know,” Tuman said. “But we don’t know everything until we get back on and do an inspection. Once we get back and take pictures, we will put it out on our website (ntbnc.org) or Facebook so people can at least get a feel for what the situation is.”
Chris Miller can be contacted via email at email@example.com or by calling 910-219-8472. Follow him on twitter @jdnsports. For digital subscription information, click here.