Hurricane Irene: N.Y. and four other states declare emergency
New York became the latest state to declare a state of emergency in a scramble to get ahead of Hurricane Irene as the storm prepares to make a potentially deadly drive up the East Coast.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s declaration Thursday follows those of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue –- whose state is projected to take the first hit Saturday when Hurricane Irene makes landfall in the U.S. –- limited her declaration to counties east of Interstate 95.
View Hurricane Irene track forecast in a larger map
The emergency declarations expand the states’ abilities to free up funds and cut through bureaucratic red tape to speed resources and emergency personnel to emergency areas.
It's also a sign that of how damaging -- and deadly -- authorities fear that Hurricane Irene can be.
Right now, Hurricane Irene is a Category 3 storm with winds clocked at nearly 130 mph as it raked over the Bahamas on Thursday. But it has the potential to grow in force and intensity to a Category 4 storm before reaching the easternmost reaches of North Carolina and its fragile barrier islands.
The storm has abruptly interrupted vacation plans for families and visitors in those areas as authorities order them to move to safety.
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Photo: New York City pedestrians try to stay dry during rains that are pelting the East Coast. And it's only going to get worse as Hurricane Irene bears down on the Eastern Seaboard this weekend. Credit: Spencer Platt /Getty Images