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At least 9 dead, 1 mln left in dark as Hurricane Irene batters U.S. East Coast (3)

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13:34, August 28, 2011

At least 10 states along the U.S. East Coast have declared state of emergency, while 2.3 million residents, living on the projected path of Hurricane Irene from North Carolina in the south to Maine in the north, had been ordered to evacuate before Saturday.

In New Jersey alone, over 1 million people were ordered to evacuate by the state government, as it braced for the worst scenario with Irene approaching. At a press conference, Governor Chris Christie said Saturday he was worried about 600 residents in Atlantic City, who refused to leave their homes despite his stern warning Friday.

In Washington D.C., which was also under state of emergency, flights were cancelled at its airports starting from Saturday night. In the past days, city authorities have been distributing sandbags to local residents to fight possible flooding caused by Hurricane Irene, which is expected to hit the area late Saturday. The area was just rattled last week by a 5.8-magnitude earthquake, which caused no major damages.

In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg repeated his call on residents living in low-lying areas to take Hurricane Irene seriously and abide by evacuation orders. "This is the storm where if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, it can be fatal," he told a news conference in New York.

The city on Saturday ordered shutdown of three major airports, the John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia and Newark airports, for safety concerns caused by Hurricane Irene, which is to reach the city on Sunday. This followed the closure of the city's massive public transit systems as of noon Saturday, the first caused by a natural disaster.

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