Hurricane Irene, a Category 2 with sustained winds of 170km / h, was heading straight Friday on the East Coast of the United States, where millions of people were on alert, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Washington , Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston.
The New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered residents to evacuate low-lying neighborhoods. And public transport will be closed Saturday.
After extensive damage to the Bahamas, the hurricane was expected to reach Saturday morning the coast of North Carolina, according to forecasts from the National Hurricane Center (NHC). It should then go along the east coast of the United States, giving very heavy rain from Virginia to New York before weakening and reach New England. The most affected areas could receive up to 250mm (liters per square meter) of rain.
Evacuations have taken place in North Carolina, where the governor declared a state of emergency, while other residents barricaded themselves in their homes. President Barack Obama, who cut short his vacation on the island of Martha's Vineyard (Massachusetts) and had to return to Washington Friday, ordered the inhabitants of the regions concerned to take seriously the threat.
"I can not stress enough: if you are on the projected path of this hurricane, you should take precautions now (...) You have to listen to the instructions of your leaders and they give you a evacuation order, please, follow him, "said the head of the White House.
At 11 am Friday (in France 17h, 15h GMT), the hurricane center was located 530km south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and was moving north at 22km / h, according to the NHC . But the effects of the hurricane can be felt hundreds of kilometers beyond the center of the disturbance, the NHC said. Rain and winds began to hit North Carolina Friday.
This is the first major hurricane to threaten the East Coast since 2004 the United States, one of the most populous regions of the country. "One of my biggest dreams has always been to have a major hurricane up along the entire north-east coast," said Max Mayfield, former director of the NHC.
Hurricane in the worst case, could cause billions of dollars in damage, said Kathleen Tierney, director of research center on natural disasters at the University of Colorado. Many cities, ports, airports, highways, railway lines and cultures are on the path of the cyclone.
In New York, which was not affected by a hurricane since 1985, part of the subway and other underground infrastructure are likely to be flooded, as the two major New York airports, JFK and La Guardia, near the sea Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the preventive evacuation of nursing homes and hospitals in the most exposed parts of the city, including Battery Park City in lower Manhattan, Coney Island in Brooklyn and Far Rockaway in Queens, areas by the sea