Hurricane Irene has been hammering the Bahamas as it moves towards the US on a projected track to hug the east coast.The first hurricane of the Atlantic season is a category three storm, with winds of 185km/h (150 mph), and is expected to strengthen.Irene, which is set to pass over the Bahamas archipelago during the day, has caused damage but so far no casualties have been reported.The huge storm has brought flooding and power cuts across the Caribbean.At 09:00 GMT on Thursday, Irene was located 130km (80 miles) east south-east of Nassau, the US National Hurricane Center in Miami said.It is expected to strengthen to a category four hurricane as it heads towards the US.
People are stocking up on supplies in coastal areas of the US state, and Outer Banks islands off North Carolina were being evacuated.On Mayaguana Island in the Bahamas, Irene damaged roofs and knocked down trees and lampposts, leaving the island without electricity, Associated Press quoted Police Inspector Vernon Rahming as saying.Capt Stephen Russell, the head of the National Emergency Management Agency, told AP that two southern islands had suffered widespread damage.Two settlements had been devastated on Acklins and Crooked islands, both of which have populations of several hundred, he said.
The capital, Nassau, on the most populated island of New Providence, was expected to see heavy rains and strong winds but not take a direct hit.Tourists rushed to the airport on Wednesday to catch the final flights out. Smaller hotels closed and larger resorts were fully booked, AP said, with people seeking a place to ride out the storm.Cruise lines have rerouted ships in the region to avoid the storm’s path.”As a general statement, we do a fair job of managing hurricanes so personal injures, we hope, will not be substantial,” Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham told AP.
The exact track of the hurricane is uncertain but US emergency officials said the east coast from the Carolinas to New England was preparing for its impact.”This is going to be a big storm. Just because it hits one area doesn’t mean its not going to cause damage further up the coast,” said Craig Fugate, the head of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema).On Tuesday, Irene pelted the UK overseas territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands with high winds and heavy rain.
Hundreds of people in the Dominican Republic took refuge in schools and churches after they were displaced by storm flooding. One man was reported to have died in flooding.In Puerto Rico, the storm knocked out power to more than half the island and affected the water supplies of more than 100,000 people.A 62-year-old woman died while attempting to drive over a swollen river near the capital, San Juan, the Associated Press reported.And on Tuesday, more than 80 families in the town of Canovanas lost their homes when a river rose suddenly in heavy rain, El Nuevo Dia newspaper said.US President Barack Obama declared an emergency, making the island, a US protectorate, eligible for federal help. – BBC