Dayum! Just days after being hit with a random earthquake, the East Coast is now bracing themselves for a potentially the potentially devastating damage Hurricane Irene could bring.
The entire upper half of the Eastern Seaboard, most of which usually manages to avoid full-strength hurricanes, is now in full-on shook mode.
The governor of New York just issued a State of Emergency with this statement:
The Governor is continuing to coordinate the statewide preparation for the storm and has ordered the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Albany to operate twenty-four hours a day. At the Governor’s direction, state agencies and local governments are planning cooperative response efforts. Governor Cuomo and his administration have been in contact with local officials, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and county executives, to coordinate preparation. The state government is communicating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service to discuss the potential tracks of the storm.
“In this emergency I am activating all levels of state government to prepare for any situation that may be caused by Hurricane Irene,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are communicating with our federal and local partners to track the storm and to plan a coordinated response, and we will deploy resources as needed to the areas expected to be hit the hardest. I urge New Yorkers to personally prepare for hurricane conditions and to cooperate with emergency officials if needed. By working together, we will all be able to face this storm in a calm and organized manner.”
And Governor Cuomo was the FIFTH governor to go the “State Of Emergency” route.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley declared emergencies for their states, while North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue declared a state of emergency in counties east of Interstate 95. The emergency declarations allow states to free funds and prepare resources that may be needed.
If Irene continues along its current track, “from a flooding perspective, this could be a hundred-year event,” Christie said. He encouraged voluntary evacuations to begin immediately. “Anybody who is on a barrier island should go,” he said, adding that on Friday people along the beaches should start thinking about moving to higher ground.
Christie said it was too soon to know whether there will be mandatory evacuations.
In parts of North Carolina, mandatory evacuations were under way Thursday.
The military moved more than two dozen ships out to sea ahead of the storm.
As of 2 p.m. ET, the Category 3 storm was pounding the Bahamas, with its eye over Abaco Island, the National Hurricane Center said.
“The core of the hurricane will continue to move over the northwestern Bahamas today, and pass well offshore of the east coast of central and north Florida tonight and early Friday. The hurricane is forecast to approach the coast of North Carolina on Saturday,” the center’s advisory said.
Maximum sustained winds were at 115 mph as the storm worked its way northwest.
Sunday’s dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C., remains on schedule, officials said after studying the track of Irene. They will make another assessment Friday.
The cone of uncertainty — the area that could be impacted by Irene depending on what path it follows over the next several days — includes much of the northeastern United States. Even if the hurricane does not make landfall, heavy rains could trigger flooding in some areas.
“The biggest concern is getting people to pay attention and make sure they are ready,” Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate said in an interview with CNN. Residents should have the necessary supplies and an evacuation plan ready, he said.
The National Hurricane Center has said Irene could strengthen to Category 4 status.
The storm could weaken as it works its way up the U.S. East Coast in the coming days. “As it gets closer to the Northeast, it will run into the cooler Labrador Current, and that — along with some more wind shear — should allow Irene to lose some strength,” said HLN meteorologist Bob Van Dillen.
The U.S. Navy is sending 27 ships based in Norfolk, Virginia, out to sea to ride out Irene, a senior Navy official told CNN. An aircraft carrier is among them. Another 28 ships will seek more sheltered areas.
And if you live somewhere where hurricanes are common and you’re wondering why all the hoopla: no one wants a repeat of Hurricane Katrina, during which, it’s still believed, less lives would have been lost if better preparations would have been taken.
So if you’re in Virginia, Maryland, New York, or New Jersey, play along.