RALEIGH -- The State of North Carolina says it's preparing for Sandy's arrival, and it urges residents to do the same.
“We are ready for whatever impacts Hurricane Sandy brings to North Carolina,” said Doug Hoell, state emergency management director.
“While landfall is not expected in North Carolina, this is a very large storm and its effects will be felt for several days along our coastal and sound counties. Residents in eastern North Carolina should monitor the weather closely and get their emergency supplies kits ready.”
Some residents of the Roanoke Island community of Manteo have vivid memories of Hurricane Irene, which brought devastating floods to the area.
Manteo waterfront dockmaster Carl Jordan said residents have learned to expect the unexpected. "It flooded so fast in Irene, you couldn't believe it," said Jordan.
As islanders prepare for the approaching megastorm Sandy, they are trying to make all the usual preparations while getting in some of their previously planned weekend activities.
Also on the Outer Banks, Marilyn McCluster made the four-hour drive from her home in Chase City, Va., to her family's beach house in Nags Head anticipating a relaxing weekend by the shore.
"It's just wind and rain; I'm hoping that's it," she said Friday as she filled her SUV at the Duck Thru, a gas station.
Inside the station, clerks had a busy day, with daytime sales bringing in about 75 percent of the revenue typically seen during the mid-summer tourist high season, said Jamicthon Howard, 56, of Manteo. Gasoline demand came from tourists leaving Hatteras Island to the south to avoid being stranded if low-lying NC Highway 12 is buried under saltwater and sand as often happens during storms, Howard said, but also locals making sure they're ready for anything.
"They're preparing for lockdown or to make a move," Howard said.
No evacuations had been ordered and ferries hadn't yet been closed. Plenty of stores remained open and houses still featured Halloween decorations outside, as rain started to roll in.
Dare County Emergency Management has urged residents to prepare early for Sandy's strong winds and heavy rains that could produce significant flooding.
They advise thet residents move their cars to higher ground and secure their property Saturday.
"I'll never evacuate again," said Lori Hilby, manager of a natural foods market in Duck, who left her home before Hurricane Irene struck last August. "... Whenever I evacuate, I always end up somewhere and they lose power and my house is fine. So I'm always wishing I was home."
Sandy was projected to hit the Atlantic Coast early Tuesday. As it turns back to the north and northwest and merges with colder air from a winter system, West Virginia and further west into eastern Ohio and southern Pennsylvania are expected to get snow. Forecasters were looking at the Delaware shore as the spot the storm will turn inland, bringing 10 inches of rain and extreme storm surges, said Louis Uccellini, environmental prediction director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Up to 2 feet of snow was predicted to fall on West Virginia, with lighter snow in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania. A wide swath of the East, measuring several hundreds of miles, will get persistent gale-force 50 mph winds, with some areas closer to storm landfall getting closer to 70 mph, said James Franklin, forecast chief for the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
"It's going to be a long-lasting event, two to three days of impact for a lot of people," Franklin said. "Wind damage, widespread power outages, heavy rainfall, inland flooding and somebody is going to get a significant surge event."
Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the forecasting service Weather Underground, said this could be as big, perhaps bigger, than the worst East Coast storm on record, a 1938 New England hurricane that is sometimes known as the Long Island Express, which killed nearly 800 people.
Associated Press also contributed to this story