Hurricane Irene zeroed in on land Saturday, losing some power but still whipping up trouble even before a catastrophic run up the Eastern Seaboard.
Irene makes landfall, N.C. hospital loses power
At least one hospital, not-for-profit Carteret General Hospital, Morehead City, N.C., lost power and was running on generators, according to its Facebook page. Calls to the hospital would not go through. Carteret closed its urgent-care center but its emergency room was open.
Hospital executives in North Carolina and elsewhere braced for the storm to affect their operations directly and potentially produce more patients . More than 2 million people were told to move to safer places, and New York City ordered the nation's biggest subway system shut down for the first time because of a natural disaster.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the enormous storm's top sustained winds slipped to 90 mph early Saturday from 100 mph overnight but warned Irene would remain a hurricane as it moves up the mid-Atlantic coast, still on track for the New York City area and New England. "The hazards are still the same," NHC hurricane specialist Mike Brennan said. "The emphasis for this storm is on its size and duration, not necessarily how strong the strongest winds are."
Hurricane warnings were issued from North Carolina to New York and farther north to the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard off Massachusetts. Evacuation orders covered at least 2.3 million people, including 1 million in New Jersey, 315,000 in Maryland, 300,000 in North Carolina, 200,000 in Virginia and 100,000 in Delaware.
New York City ordered more than 300,000 people who live in flood-prone areas to leave, including Battery Park City at the southern tip of Manhattan, Coney Island and the beachfront Rockaways. The city said it would shut down the subways and buses at noon Saturday, only a few hours after the first rain is expected to fall.
After the Outer Banks, the next target for Irene was the Hampton Roads region of southeast Virginia, a jagged network of inlets and rivers that floods easily. Emergency officials have said the region is more threatened by storm surge—the high waves that accompany a storm—than wind. Gas stations there were low on fuel Friday, and grocery stores scrambled to keep water and bread on the shelves.
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