Hurricane Irene hammers Bahamas (video) Where's she going now?
Hurricane Irene, with winds of 120 m.p.h., is now on a track to make landfall in North Caroline, then move toward New York and New Engalnd.
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'STOCKING UP LIKE CRAZY' Earlier Wednesday, Irene strengthened over the Bahamas to a major Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson intensity scale, posing a high risk of injury and death. Forecasters said it could become a Category 4 by Thursday.
``Someone's roof is in my front yard,'' Harvey Roberts, an assistant administrator on the sparsely populated southeast Bahamas island of Mayaguana, told reporters Wednesday, saying ``tremendous winds'' were lashing homes and buildings there. Farther north on the scattered low-lying Bahamas, including Nassau, residents were frantically preparing.
``Everyone is either pulling up boats or putting up shutters. We are very well prepared,'' said Chuck Pinder, a 28-year-old fisherman in the community of Spanish Wells.
NHC chief Read predicted a ``really tough time'' for the Bahamas as Irene swept through Wednesday and Thursday.
Irene dealt a blow to the crucial tourism industry of the Bahamas. Cruise lines rearranged itineraries for more than a dozen ships in the area and tourism officials said the loss of those passenger visits would cost the Bahamas almost $2 million in tax revenues and other spending. Hotels also saw guests cancel or cut short their visits. Energy firms planned to shut more than 28 million barrels of oil storage capacity in the Bahamas and refineries on the U.S. East Coast were preparing for the storm.
On the U.S. mainland, across the Carolinas coastline and in neighboring Virginia, residents stocked up with food, water and other supplies, including plywood to board up windows.
(Additional reporting by Tom Brown, Jane Sutton and Manuel Rueda in Miami, Matthew Ward in Chesapeake, Virginia; Joan Gralla in New York, Lisa Lambert in Washington; Ned Barnett in Raleigh, N.C.; Writing by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Eric Beech)