With dangerous Hurricane Irene drawing closer to the East Coast, numerous large-scale evacuations are under way from the Carolinas north to the New York City area.
Thousands more near the Northeast coast could be told to evacuate later today, as confidence increases in Irene becoming one of the worst hurricanes to impact the region in decades.
The AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center continues to forecast Irene's landfall Saturday evening in eastern North Carolina as a major hurricane before a perilous encounter with the mid-Atlantic coast and New York City Sunday.
Such a track will impact millions, and officials are taking no chances by making evacuations mandatory and stressing that interrupted transportation will hinder any chances of emergency rescues.
Coastal Residents Ordered to Leave
Ahead of the hurricane, governors from North Carolina to New York have declared states of emergency. President Obama has already declared an emergency in North Carolina, authorizing federal resources to supplement any state or local aid.
Numerous mandatory evacuation orders are in effect, including in eastern North Carolina, expected to suffer some of the worst conditions from Irene. Following a mass exodus of tourists and visitors, permanent residents began to leave on Thursday.
Other mandatory evacuations farther north include parts of Norfolk, Va., Ocean City, Md., and a large portion of the New Jersey Shore.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered the evacuation of all hospitals and nursing homes which are located in the low-lying coastal areas of Coney Island, Lower Manhattan and Far Rockaway, Queens.
Bloomberg says city officials will make a decision by 8 a.m. Saturday morning whether they need to evacuate more people susceptible to flooding from a storm surge.
According to Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, "Flooding from up to a foot of rain will inundate some communities inland."
While Sosnowski urges people to heed evacuation warnings, he points out that some places which people are heading to may be flooded by rainfall and overflowing streams.
"There will be very nasty flooding in some inland areas, especially from the Delmarva through central New England," Sosnowski said.
"People heading to friends, relatives and shelters away from the immediate coast are also at risk for being cut off for a time, as water levels flood neighborhoods and falling trees cut power," Sosnowski added.
Where to Go for More Information
If you have been told to evacuate, do not hesitate, and begin preparing to leave immediately. Tips and information on hurricane evacuation routes are available on state and local government websites:
-- North Carolina: NCDOT Evacuation Maps
-- Virginia: VDOT Hurricane Evacuation Guide
-- Maryland: Ocean City Hurricane Information
-- Delaware: DelDOT Evacuation Maps
-- New Jersey: Office of Emergency Management Evacuation Maps
-- Connecticut: Governor's Office Hurricane Irene Website
-- Rhode Island: Emergency Management Agency Evacuation Maps
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