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Hospitals along US East Coast evacuated

August 26, 2011 22:39 IST

Hospitals and nursing homes in the United States East Coast's low-lying areas were evacuated on Friday as the hurricane 'Irene' continued on its way to the region inhabited by about 65 million people.

The evacuation order covers 22 hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities for older people. Authorities also ordered that no construction work would take place in the city and transit officials were preparing for a possible shutdown.

With the hurricane threatening to send strong winds and heavy rains to the area over the weekend, transportation officials have said subways and buses in New York City as well as the commuter rail lines in the suburbs could be out of service.

Authorities say Irene could cause billions of dollars in damages or more along the eastern seaboard in "a worst case scenario".

Connecticut governor Daniel Malloy said Irene could cause prolonged power outages. New York on Thursday declared a state of emergency as the US East Coast geared up for the hurricane, expected to be the strongest to strike the East Coast in seven years.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said measures are being put in place in preparation for the potential impact of the hurricane and state and local agencies are working on emergency response efforts.

Apart from New York, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland and North Carolina also declared emergency and began implementing measures to tackle the massive storm.

"In this emergency I am activating all levels of state government to prepare for any situation that may be caused by Hurricane Irene," Cuomo said.

"We are communicating with our federal and local partners to track the storm and to plan a coordinated response, and we will deploy resources as needed to the areas expected to be hit the hardest," he added.

The hurricane is expected to move up the east coast over the weekend, hammering Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston on its way. The center of the storm is about 600 kilometers south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, moving to the north at 22 kph.

Cuomo urged New Yorkers to take stock of their emergency supplies, such as water, non-perishable food, radios, batteries and first aid kits and make arrangements to move to safer ground.

The National Weather Service issued a hurricane watch for New York, Long Island and Connecticut and a hurricane warning for New Jersey.

Yoshita Singh in New York
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