Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hurricane Irene reaches category three on way to US

Hurricane Irene approaching the Bahamas on 23 August 2011 Irene has already brought havoc to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic

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Hurricane Irene has grown to category three force as it barrels towards the east coast of the United States.

Irene is now packing winds of 110 mph (185km/h) near the Bahamas, and the storm could reach the US mainland by the end of the week.

Voluntary evacuations have begun on a barrier island off North Carolina. People are already stocking up on supplies.

The storm has already brought flooding and power cuts across the Caribbean.

Federal officials have warned Irene could do the same along the US east coast as far north as Maine, even if it stays offshore.

In the state of North Carolina, residents have been buying up fuel and supplies, and plywood to board up windows.
Hurricane Irene tracks toward the Carolinas
On Tuesday, Irene pelted the UK overseas territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands and south-eastern parts of the Bahamas with high winds and heavy rain.

Hundreds of people in the Dominican Republic took refuge in schools and churches after they were displaced by storm flooding.

In Puerto Rico, the storm knocked out power to more than half the island and affected the water supplies of more than 100,000 people.

US President Barack Obama declared an emergency - making the island eligible for federal help.

Craig Fugate, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, advised residents of the east coast from the Mid-Atlantic region up to New England to prepare for the hurricane's arrival.

"It's going to be close and whether we get a brush or whether we have a landfall, it's too early to say," he told ABC television.

"Go ahead and make sure you're ready and then if evacuations are required, heed those evacuation orders."

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