Hurricane Irene on way to US

Thousands of holidaymakers on the US east coast have been ordered to head home as Hurricane Irene approaches after pounding the Bahamas islands chain.

The tourists on North Carolina's Outer Banks were told to leave the exposed strip of coastal villages and beaches.



Hurricane Irene has severely damaged dozens of homes in the southern Bahamas.



The National Emergency Management Agency reported that a settlement known as Lovely Bay on Acklins island in the Bahamas was destroyed.



The agency said at least 40 homes were badly damaged on the island of Mayaguana. Authorities were still gathering damage reports.



Trees were knocked down and streets flooded throughout the archipelago but there are no reports of deaths or injuries.



Hurricane Irene's wind weakened to about 115 mph (185 kph) today as the storm battered the island of Eleuthera. Winds in the capital of Nassau were not expected to exceed 65mph (105 kph).



Forecasters said, however, that the winds will ramp up quickly over the next day and Irene was expected to blow into a monstrous Category 4 with winds at least 131 mph (210 mph).



The evacuation order for North Carolina's string of barrier islands went into effect today and officials estimated up to 150,000 tourists would be leaving.



Authorities concerned about traffic closed schools in the region on what was to be the first day of the academic year.



In Virginia, the US Navy ordered the Second Fleet to leave Norfolk Naval Station to keep ships safe from the approaching hurricane. The order applied to 64 ships in south-eastern Virginia. Nine ships were already at sea with more on the way.



The Navy said ships that are under way can better weather such storms. The move will also help protect piers from being damaged.



Meanwhile, a new tropical depression formed far out over the Atlantic, with the National Hurricane Centre saying it was likely to become a tropical storm later in the day.



Forecasters say that Irene could hit North Carolina's Outer Banks on Saturday afternoon.



It is then predicted to chug up the East Coast, dumping rain from Virginia to New York City before a much-weakened form reaches land in Connecticut. Finally, it should peter out in Maine by Monday afternoon.



All along the seaboard, officials were scrambling to inspect bridges, dusting off evacuation plans and getting sandbags ready for potential floods.



While the storm's path isn't definite, US officials are taking nothing for granted.



Even without hurricane-force winds, north-eastern states already drenched from a rainy August could see flooding and fallen trees from Irene.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

East15 Acting School: Finance and Contracts Officer

£20,781 to £24,057 per annum: East15 Acting School: The post involves general ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: ACS qualified Domestic Gas Brea...

Recruitment Genius: Product Packager / Stock Assistant

£16250 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Product Packager / Stock Assistant is ...

Recruitment Genius: Head Chef

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Garden Centre complex base...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen