Hurricane Irene first to threaten US in years; some officials worry about complacency

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

As Hurricane Irene rapidly gains strength, emergency officials along the Southeast coast are telling people potentially in the storm's path not be complacent.

At latest report, Irene was centered about 50 miles northeast of the Dominican Republic with top winds around 100 mph, putting it at Category 2. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Irene is likely to become a major Category 3 hurricane Tuesday and could strengthen to Category 4 by Thursday.

It is forecast to pass over or near Turks and Caicos and the
southern Bahamas by Tuesday night.

Irene is the first hurricane to seriously threaten the U.S.
since Hurricane Ike pounded Texas in 2008. Forecasters say it could
make landfall in Florida, Georgia or South Carolina. But right now,
they say the predictions are highly uncertain.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Craig
Fugate, is urging residents of those states to "take this storm
seriously."


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