US East Coast braces for monstrous hurricane

August 26th, 2011 - 11:55 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 26 (IANS) Americans along a 700-mile stretch on the East Coast braced for monstrous Irene hurricane heading their way and posing the biggest hurricane threat to the United States in six years.

There was even a possibility that the storm, which could reach Category 4 status, could slam into Manhattan in New York causing concerns about soaring skyscrapers and underground tunnels.

With Hurricane Irene threatening a full-force hit, New York City Thursday ordered the evacuation of nursing homes and senior centres in low-lying areas and made plans for the possible shutdown of the entire transit system, the New York Times said.

According to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the city was ready with “evacuation contingencies” for low-lying places like Coney Island in Brooklyn, Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan and parts of Staten Island and the Rockaways in Queens, home to the largest concentration of Indian Americans in the US with a population of over 130,000.

In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie told shore-area residents hoping to sit out the storm that “it is not the smart thing to do.”

A state of emergency has already been declared in Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Connecticut and parts of North Carolina in anticipation of Irene, CNN reported.

In Washington, Sunday’s dedication ceremony for the newly built memorial to the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was postponed as Hurricane Irene swung north on a path that will rake the Eastern Seaboard this weekend.

Organizers said the dedication will be rescheduled for September or October. The memorial, the first on the Mall honouring an African American, has been a quarter-century in the making.

Fears were perhaps greatest in North Carolina and Virginia and on the slivers of islands that extend off those coastlines, which could start feeling Irene’s punch by Friday evening, CNN said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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