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OCRACOKE, N.C. (AP) – Authorities have ordered hundreds of visitors to leave much of North Carolina’s Outer Banks as Hurricane Maria approaches the barrier islands.

Evacuations began Monday for Ocracoke and Hatteras islands, which jut out into the Atlantic. Authorities warn that high winds and flooding are likely as Maria passes well offshore as a tropical storm.

Tourists packed up and drove off – some after only one day of what was supposed to be a week-long vacation. Business owners braced for yet another financial hit.

A construction accident at the peak of tourist season in late July had previously cut power to Ocracoke and Hatteras for several days, resulting in the evacuation of an estimated 50,000 tourists. Businesses lost millions of dollars.

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