President Obama departs Martha's Vineyard early as island prepares for Hurrcane Irene
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusettes, United States
August 26, 2011 06:30 pm EDT
Weather, Warning, Politics, Government, Heads Of State
President Obama cut his Martha's Vineyard vacation short and left the island before noon today as the destination vacation spot prepares for Hurricane Irene.
The weather on the island is hot, humid, sunny and a picture postcard of what many call paradise. But, the usually bustling streets this time of year were nearly deserted, the shops all but empty and the restaurants quiet as tourists left or attempted to head off island before the storm hits.
Early this afternoon, the center of Hurricane Irene was located 300 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The storm was packing winds of 100 miles per hour, and moving at a speed of about 14 mph. The center of the storm is expected to make landfall as a Category 2 hurricane early Saturday morning in eastern North Carolina, near Morehead City.
Rain and wind will begin to pick up in eastern Virginia late tonight and into Saturday, and then move to Maryland, Delaware, southern New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania.
New York and the eastern part of New England are expected to encounter conditions never experienced by residents there before with destructive winds, flooding rains and storm surges that will cause coastal flooding.
In New York City the entire mass transit system is preparing for a full shut down. The low-lying financial district around Wall Street is already making contingency plans ahead of Monday's opening bell so that there will be no disruption in trading.
On Martha's Vineyard the lines at the Steamship Authority in Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven were long as many rushed to leave before Irene hit. First indications were for the island to receive a direct hit from the storm. Many wait listed their cars and sat in the hot sun hoping for a spot on any ferry they could get on to get off island. The King family from West Hartford, CT., were suppose to stay on the Vineyard until Tuesday but weren't taking any chances. "We have been in line for five hours hoping to get our car on so we can leave. But from the looks of the cars ahead of us, we just might have to wait for the 7 o'clock boat," said Mrs. King.
Wayne Lampson, General Manager of the Steamship Authority said to expect interruptions Saturday and Sunday. "The ferries are completely booked from now until Labor Day. We plan to add extra boats to accomodate travelers and will post regular updates on our website. I don't expect boats will run at all on Sunday as high winds are expected all day."
Reports are comparing the storm to The Great New England Hurricane of 1938, a Category 5 storm that hit land as a Category 3. The hurricane killed approximately 800 people, 99 in Massachusetts. Martha's Vineyard was particularly hard hit.
Ace Hardware in Vineyard Haven was sold out of batteries and flashlights two days ago, and the line at the Stop & Shop was long with many stocking up on bottled water. Boaters were racing to get their sea faring vessels out of the water, and the usually busy harbors were quiet in anticipation of what lies ahead.
An estimated 65 million people live in Irene's path and all are being urged to take precautions.
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