Eastern US Braces for Hurricane Irene

Posted August 25th, 2011 at 4:25 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Eastern U.S. states are scrambling to prepare for a possible onslaught from a powerful hurricane heading toward the U.S. coast.

The governors of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey have declared states of emergency to free up resources ahead of Hurricane Irene.

Forecasters issued a hurricane watch for much of the North Carolina coast Thursday, as the storm pounded The Bahamas with winds as high as 185 kilometers per hour. Irene is currently a Category Three storm on a five-point scale, and the National Hurricane Center has labeled it “dangerous.”

The storm is expected to hit North Carolina on Saturday. Authorities there are already evacuating residents and beach visitors.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Craig Fugate, told reporters Thursday that Irene will not just be a coastal storm. He said the storm will have an impact “well inland,” both from flooding and winds, which can topple trees and cause power outages.

National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read said even the nation's capital could be directly affected.

In Virginia, the U.S. Navy ordered ships at a major port out to sea, where it said they can better weather such storms. Meanwhile, the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, urged residents to prepare to move to higher ground, saying some areas of the city could be ordered to evacuate.

Irene is the first hurricane to seriously threaten the United States in three years.

Authorities say Irene could cause flooding in the U.S. mid-Atlantic and New England regions, where soil is saturated from recent heavy rains.