As North Carolina braced on Friday for a direct hit from Hurricane Irene, cities along the east coast were on alert and millions of beach goers cut short vacations to escape the powerful storm.
With more than 50 million people potentially in Irene’s path, residents stocked up on food and water and worked to secure homes, vehicles and boats. States, cities, ports, oil refineries and nuclear plants scrambled to activate emergency plans.
“I filled my tank up with gas in case I need to leave in a hurry or something, and get a lot of food supplies, taking everything out of my yard … anything that can fly into a window,” said Patricia Stapleton of Newport, North Carolina.
Irene lashed the low-lying Bahamas on Thursday and was expected to hit North Carolina on Saturday before heading up the coast to New York and beyond.