The whole East Coast is on alert as Hurricane Irene approaches with strong winds up to 110 miles per hour (175 km/h). The expected landfall is Saturday afternoon and weather forecasters have considered Irene as the biggest storm to hit the area in more than 50 years.
Due to the threats of heavy rain, wind and flooding, mandatory evacuations have already started in some parts of East Coast. President Barack Obama declared the state of emergencies in North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey and New York. Around 65 million people live along the coast and may be affected.
Earlier, hurricane Irene has already caused destruction in the Caribbean and damaged more than 100 homes in Bahamas. Prior to this, it swept over Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and brought floods and power interruptions.
Government authorities and Red Cross volunteers are now prepared to respond to emergencies and relief operations. The storm is predicted to cause not only flooding but destruction to properties and infrastructures.
Hurricane Irene is the second disaster to hit U.S. Just a week ago a strong earthquake affected the East Coast and shocked the residents. There was little damage but it was considered the most powerful tremor to hit the eastern part of U.S. since 1987. The tower of the National Cathedral in Washington and some buildings in Maryland were partly damaged. There was chaos in the US capital city as people who were afraid of aftershocks rushed to leave their offices resulting to traffic jams and transport delays.
News Update: August 27, 2011
Hurricane Irene has been forecasted to remain strong until Sunday as it moves to the mid-Atlantic coast. It will gradually weaken to a tropical storm, but still potentially destructive, before reaching the northern part of New England. Residents in the low-lying areas in New York were asked to evacuate to higher grounds. Some airports and train stations in New York and New Jersey will be closed as Hurricane Irene moves closer to those states. Government authorities reported power outages caused by the violent winds and possibility of floodings due to an “extremely dangerous storm surge” that can push the water along the North Carolina Coast to as much as 6 to 11 feet above the ground level.