Jeremy Pickett cut pieces of boards to protect the windows in a shopping store in Cape Hatteras in preparation for Hurricane Irene at Cape Hatteras. N.C. on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011. Evacuations began on Ocracoke Island off North Carolina as Hurricane Irene strengthened to a major Category 3 storm over the Bahamas on Wednesday with the East Coast in its sights. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley have declared states of emergency in their respective states in preparation for Hurricane Irene.
While the direct path of the storm is not yet known, parts of Virginia and Maryland could be hit hard based on computer models and projections.
“We are issuing this state of emergency today as a precautionary measure in order to ensure that we are ready for any potential effects of Hurricane Irene in the Commonwealth," McDonnell said in a statement. "Over the last 24 hours, a number of weather models have shifted the forecasted track of Irene slightly to the west, increasing the potential for inclement weather and potentially dangerous conditions in portions of Virginia. At this time, I encourage all Virginians to gather items they may need this weekend in case of power outages and disruptions in public services and to make sure their family members and friends are also prepared for this storm."
In his disaster declaration, O'Malley noted that while Irene's path is uncertain, Maryland must prepare for potential destruction and minimize the threat to public safety.
O'Malley was scheduled to hold a 3:30 p.m. news conference at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency in Reisterstown.
Earlier in the day, Ocean City activated phase one of its hurricane action plan in preparation for Irene.
Eastern Virginia residents who live in low-lying areas should be ready to evacuate ahead of the storm, according to state officials.
Citizens should listen to local TV and radio stations for instructions, such as an evacuation order for specific areas, details about evacuation routes and locations of evacuation shelters.
Those in an evacuation area should take emergency supplies with them, including all medications. For a list of suggested emergency supplies, visit: http://www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/getakit.
Virginia officials do not plan to reverse lanes on Interstate 64. Residents should review the evacuation routes for their area to determine the best route. In the event that a mandatory evacuation is necessary in specific areas, citizens will be provided further instructions through local and state authorities.
A state of emergency is declared under state law so that state resources can be made available. The governor’s emergency declaration ensures a fully coordinated state response to support local initial recovery efforts. A declaration also decreases time needed to get personnel, equipment and supplies on scene.
State agencies are preparing by in the following ways:
For general information about the storm, Virginia residents can dial 211.
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