Mandatory Evacuation Order Issued for Ocracoke Island, NC, as Irene Becomes Category 3

VIDEO: Mandatory evacuations begin for Ocracoke Island in advance of Hurricane Irene.
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All along East Coast, Labor Day travel plans are becoming more tenuous as emergency management officials from Maine all the way to Florida are monitoring the path of Hurricane Irene, which could become a Category 4 hurricane and touch down Saturday in North Carolina.

Today, the first mandatory evacuation order in the U.S., for tourists on tiny Ocracoke Island, N.C., began Wednesday at 5 a.m.

The island, which sits off the coast of North Carolina, is forecast as a likely landfall location for Hurricane Irene.

Jennifer Zaharek, who was married Monday, said her honeymoon on the island was cut short.

"We just got to spend one day on the beach and then we went to bed early to get up for the evacuation," she told the Associated Press as she exited a ferry in Hatteras, N.C., with her husband Andrew.

Ocracoke Island has a tiny airport. However most visitors reach the out-of-the-way tourist hotspot by ferry or private boat, said Pam Norris, a bed and breakfast owner.

Norris, along with other hotel owners, told ABCNews.com that all of their guests evacuated this morning.

"Two grandparents and their granddaughter were staying with us, and they really, really didn't want to leave," Norris said.

"They were excited about the storm, but I said, 'No I'm sorry. We have limited resources. You have to go.'"

On Thursday, it will be time for the island's 800 residents to leave the island.

Misty Sitterson, who works at The Castle Bed & Breakfast, said she had her bags packed and ready to go.

"I'm not going to chance that," she said. "I don't want to give my husband something else to worry about."

Even though residents face an evacuation order, Norris, who has lived on the island for three years, said she hasn't made up her mind yet whether she'll leave.

"We're scrambling to get ready, with food and water and bringing things inside the house," she said. "We're on one of the highest lots here, so we'll probably wait it out unless something changes."

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