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Bonnie Slowly Wobbles Toward N.C. Coast, Residents Keep Watch

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MOREHEAD CITY/WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — WRAL-TV5's Special Coverage on Hurricane BonnieTune in to WRAL-TV5 Tuesday at 7 p.m. for a half-hour special.

Everyone along the North Carolina coast is wondering where Hurricane Bonnie is heading. Many people are not making a move until they know what is going to happen

Bonnie is holding steady in the Atlantic Ocean, but she's been unpredictable and could be headed our way.

Many people are still at the beach enjoying the beautiful weather, and some will stay until the last minute.

"I'm going to stay 'til the last minute. It's fascinating even though its scary and you need to be aware. It's interesting," said Linda McCoy, an Atlantic Beach resident.

The red flags are up which means the beaches are officially closed, but that hasn't kept everyone out of the water.

"There's a difference. The waves are bigger and the undertow is stronger," said surfer Rick Pearson.

The waves are already breaking 500-600 feet off-shore, and the waves are about six feet high. Great for surfing, but very dangerous.

"We have been going up and down the beach advising the people to stay out of the water, because it is dangerous," said Jimmy Leonard, Atlantic Beach Fire Chief.

Thirty people were rescued from the waters Sunday, four were resuscitated by life guards, and an 8-year-old boy died.

"We're only doing this for the safety of the people. We're trying to make them aware that the ocean is dangerous, more dangerous than normal," Leonard explained.

We emphasize the beach is supposed to be closed. The red flags are up, but there are still some people getting into the water. None in this area have been in trouble Monday as we know of, but there is a very wicked undertow at this time.

Everything seems to be business as usual in the grocery stores and pantries. There hasn't been any great runs for water and very few people are boarding up. Those who work at the stores say they expect that to change by Tuesday morning. The shelves are stocked and there is plenty of plywood in the area.

But there are still plenty of people who say this is just another day at the beach, and despite hearing about Bonnie, many families aren't quite ready to cut their vacations short.

Although there is the threat of major damage on the way, there is still to time to fish, surf and enjoy the day, but they are all keeping a close eye on a spoiler named Bonnie. They say if Bonnie does come around, they will be ready to go.

Many say they will stay until they are told to leave. They want to wait and see, because you never can tell about these things.

In Wrightsville Beach, many people aren't taking chances, because they remember Hurricane Fran.

"With Fran, our house was destroyed, so we're in the process of rebuilding down here right now. So we take it seriously," said Judy Trask, a Wrightsville Beach resident.

"The smaller boats are being pulled out of the water, put on trailers and taken inland. We are tying up the bigger boats at the slip or moving them up the river. We'll be doing that tomorrow Wednesday, depending on when the storm is going to hit the area," said Jeff Kerr.

They're also boarding up windows and securing furniture. The 3,000 residents of Wrightsville Beach are also getting stickers to prove they're residents so that they will be allowed back on the beach after a storm hits.

"We are as ready as we can be. Our people have been alerted, and there is always apprehension on these things. But we've done a lot of planning," said Wrightsville Beach Mayor Avery Roberts.

Roberts also says he will not hesitate to evacuate Wrightsville Beach if there is any threat of danger.

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John Clark, Web Editor

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