Published: Sep 01, 2010 5:53 AM EDT
Updated: Sep 01, 2010 8:52 AM EDT

OCRACOKE, N.C. (AP) - About 30 vehicles have been waiting in line for the first ferry to evacuate Ocracoke Island on North Carolina's Outer Banks, as Hurricane Earl approaches.

Hyde County spokeswoman Jamie Tunnell said Wednesday morning the ferries would soon begin running to make the 2½-hour trip to the mainland.

Tunnell says she doesn't know how many people will leave the island to avoid Earl, which is forecast to brush past the Outer Banks on Thursday.

The ferries are the only way off the island, except for those with private boats or aircraft.

She says the North Carolina Department of Transportation is not charging for the ferry service off the island.