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Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-08-25

As Hurricane Irene battered the Bahamas Thursday, America braced itself for the Category 3 storm. Irene is set to hit North Carolina Saturday before travelling up the east coast with New York and Washington DC preparing for the worst.

REUTERS - The northeast U.S. seaboard, including the capital, Washington, and financial center New York, rushed to prepare on Thursday for a possible mauling from Hurricane Irene that will hit the U.S. coast this weekend.

Irene, a major Category 3 hurricane now battering the low-lying Bahamas southeast of Florida, was expected to sweep up to land on Saturday on jutting eastern North Carolina, before raking up the remaining U.S. Atlantic seaboard.

The rest of the eastern seaboard is well within the path of this storm,” National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read said on Thursday. Being a large hurricane, tropical storm-force winds will extend far inland.”

After hitting the North Carolina coast as a major hurricane on the five-step Saffir Simpson intensity scale, Read forecast Irene would continue as a less intense but still dangerous Category 2 storm as it moved on Sunday into the Delaware, Maryland and Virginia coastal region and then on to New York on Monday.

“Any further deviation left could bring direct impacts as far inland as the Washington-Baltimore area,” Read said.

“We could expect tropical force winds or worse in the DC area,” U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate said on an earlier call. Fugate briefed President Barack Obama and other top officials on the threat.

He said coastal evacuations were already under way in North Carolina and more were expected along the east coast as Irene approaches in the coming days.

At 11 a.m. (1500 GMT), Irene was packing winds of 115 miles per hour (185 kph) and was centered about 75 miles (115 km) north northeast of Nassau. The hurricane knocked out power in the Bahamas capital and felled trees, blocking roads.

Earlier, local media reported homes washed away in low-lying Acklins Island in the Bahamas.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the United States’ most populous city was bracing to experience at least tropical storm conditions and flooding starting on Sunday from Irene, which could hit Long Island as a Category 2 hurricane.

“We hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” Bloomberg told a news conference, adding some evacuations could be possible. The city is positioning rescue boats and helicopters, working to minimize street flooding and gearing up at hospitals.

“The city has already seen the power of Mother Nature once this week, and Mother Nature may not be done with us yet,” Bloomberg said, referring to Tuesday’s earthquake.

If Irene makes a direct landfall in the continental United States, it will be the first hurricane to hit there since Ike pounded Texas in 2008. But forecasts showed it posed no threat to U.S. oil and gas installations in the Gulf of Mexico.

Date created : 2011-08-25


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