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North Carolina and three other states declare state of emergencies ahead of Irene


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North Carolina and three other states declare state of emergencies ahead of Irene

2011-08-26 01:51:54 GMT+7 (ICT)

MIAMI (BNO NEWS) -- The governors of the U.S. states of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey on Thursday declared a state of emergency ahead of major category three hurricane Irene.

As of 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), hurricane specialists at the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the center of Irene was located about 610 miles (980 kilometers) south of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. Irene is moving toward the north-northwest, but forecasters expect the hurricane will turn toward the north-northeast on early Friday morning.

If Irene continues as forecast, the center of the intense hurricane will make landfall on the eastern coast of North Carolina on Saturday. It will then proceed into parts of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware before continuing into New Jersey and likely New York.

As of early Thursday afternoon, as it moved through the Bahamas, Irene had maximum sustained winds near 115 miles (185 kilometers) per hour, making it a category three hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity.

North Carolina is forecast to be the worst hit area, with maximum sustained winds around 115 miles (185 kilometers) per hour when Irene makes landfall on Saturday. Gusts are forecast to exceed 138 miles (222 kilometers) per hour.

As a result, North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue declared a state of emergency for counties east of Interstate 95. He also requested President Barack Obama to declare a pre-landfall emergency declaration to provide federal assistance for response efforts.

"Hurricane Irene poses a significant threat to our state, and we need to take appropriate action to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors, along with property and infrastructure along our coast," Perdue said.

Perdue's proclamation authorizes officials to respond more effectively to the emergency by authorizing additional state government resources to assist county and municipal governments. Under the proclamation, the governor has expanded powers to address all aspects of the emergency, including the authority to use state resources needed to respond to the situation.

Evacuations already began on Wednesday with the evacuation of tourists from Ocracoke Island. On Thursday, mandatory evacuation orders were issued for everyone in Dare County, Ocracoke and Hyde County. Currituck County has issued a mandatory evacuation order for all visitors.

In Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell also declared a state of emergency. "At this time, I encourage all Virginians to gather items they may need this weekend in case of power outages and disruptions in public services and to make sure their family members and friends are also prepared for this storm," the governor said.

In addition, the state has also activated the Virginia Evacuation Coordination Team for Operational Response while other state agencies are on alert. The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring personnel on state active duty and begin propositioning resources.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie both also declared state of emergencies ahead of Irene.

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-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2011-08-26

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