News / USA

Hurricane Irene Bears Down on Millions in Eastern US

Sean Maroney

Tens of millions of people in the eastern United States are bracing for Hurricane Irene, which forecasters say could be the biggest storm to strike the area in more than half a century.  It brings the threat of heavy wind, rain and flooding after punishing the Caribbean late Thursday with winds as high as 185 kilometers per hour. 

NOAA video on Hurricane Irene's path



U.S. weather forecasters say they expect Hurricane Irene to affect some 65 million people along the east coast in the coming days.

State of Emergency


The governors of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and New York have all declared states of emergency in order to free up resources for disaster relief.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Irene has slightly weakened, with maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers an hour, but it remains a dangerous category two storm on a five-point scale measuring a storm's intensity and potential destructive power.  Forecasters expect it to strengthen as it nears the North Carolina coast.  

Irene has killed at least one person in Puerto Rico and two in the Dominican Republic. 

American Red Cross spokesman Chris Osborne describes the enormity of the storm, speaking with VOA by phone outside late Thursday from the North Carolina coast.

"This hurricane stands to possibly affect the entire eastern seaboard.  The Red Cross has already prepositioned more than 200 emergency response vehicles and lots of volunteers, dozens, I should even say hundreds of volunteers.  And so certainly we are looking at this, monitoring it minute by minute, hour by hour," he said.

What you should do


Osborne says his organization has warned everyone in the storm's path to get a disaster kit, make a family emergency plan and listen to local officials regarding evacuations.

He says the Red Cross is hoping for the best, while expecting the worst, and that it is positioned to respond to any affected areas.

"One of the good things about a hurricane is that we consider it a slow-moving disaster, which means that we have a little lead time to get ready and prep and get people and supplies in the right place.  We will be here until the job is done," he said.

Concerns

Hurricane Irene is the second natural disaster to affect the eastern U.S. within the past week.  On Tuesday, the biggest earthquake in more than a century struck the region, shocking many residents who now find themselves in the path of the storm.

Although damage was minimal in the 5.8 magnitude quake, authorities were concerned that high mobile phone usage jammed networks causing service to fail for many in the Washington area.

Despite this threat, Osborne says his organization still is encouraging people to use its website and mobile phone services for help during the storm.

"We know that cell phone service can sometimes be sketchy, but a lot of times, cell phone service is the quickest thing to get back up and running so that's always a good alternative to communicate with the Red Cross and find out how we can help," he said.

Irene is the first hurricane to seriously threaten the United States in three years.

The head of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency predicts the storm will have an impact "well inland," both from flooding and winds, which can topple trees and cause power outages.  Authorities also warn that recent heavy rains across much of the east coast could compound the flooding.

In the meantime, Hurricane Irene has disrupted planned events up-and-down the east coast, including the dedication in Washington of the new memorial  to the famed U.S. civil rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which had been scheduled for Sunday.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs