RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Thousands of vacationers on the outer banks of North Carolina are being told to pack up and ship out.
The mandatory evacuation started early Wednesday for Okracoke Island.
Tourists are taking ferries to head back to the mainland ahead of Hurricane Earl.
There are about 5,000 visitors on the island.
The evacuation is only for those visitors, not for those who live there. Emergency workers hope they decide to leave the island too.
About 800 people live on the island year round.
It's about a two and a half hour trip to shore, so the first group of evacuees should make it to the mainland between 7:30 and 8 a.m.
Other coastal counties are doing more of a wait and see approach, but more evacuations could come in the next few hours.
In Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell plans to declare an emergency ahead of the storm.