President Obama will return from his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard on Saturday to deal with the onslaught of Hurricane Irene as it moves up the east coast hitting North Carolina, New York and New England.
The President said “All of us have to take this storm seriously...If you are given an evacuation order, please follow it.”
More than 55 million people are located in the path of the Category 3 hurricane. On Thursday the hurricane lashed against the Bahamas and is now moving north to hit North Carolina before heading up the coast to New York and New England.
At a press conference on Friday afternoon Obama urged the American public to take the storm “seriously”, to prepare and to get out of the path of the “extremely dangerous and costly” storm.
He said “All indications point to this being a historic hurricane…I cannot stress this highly enough. If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now. Don't wait. Don't delay."
Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg said, on Thursday night “What we have to do is assume the worst, prepare for that, and hope for the best."
On Friday morning Irene has reached winds of up to 185km/h off the coast of North Carolina.
Coastal evacuations of North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland have been put into place. Airlines have begun to cut flights to eastern airports and travelers are being urged to postpone their trips.
US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has warned citizens to expect extensive power outages over the coming days.
Bill Read, the National Hurricane Center Director, said “All the major metropolitan areas along the northeast are going to be impacted…Being a large hurricane, tropical storm-force winds will extend far inland."
Virginia governor Bob McDonnell urged has urged residents to seek shelter on Friday evening and stay put. He said “Saturday is going to be a horrendous day for travel. There will be roads and bridges closed.”
In New York the Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) has announced that transport will be shut down from noon on Saturday. This shut down will include the LIRR, Metro-North Railroad and the Access-A-Ride.
Staten Island University Hospital and Coney Island Hospital have begun to evacuate patients to beds on higher ground. Also NYU Hospitals Center and Veterans Administration Medical Center are within the evacuation zone.