-- Robert Preidt
SATURDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Hurricane Irene made
landfall in North Carolina early Saturday, weakening slightly but
still pummeling the coastal state with 85 mph winds as it slowly
moves its way up the heavily populated Eastern Seaboard.
Emergency officials in six states and New England have told an
estimated 55 million residents to brace for the worst this weekend,
and over 2 million people have been told to move to safer areas.
More than 1 million people in New Jersey, 315,000 in Maryland,
300,000 in North Carolina, 200,000 in Virginia and 100,000 in
Delaware have been told to evacuate.
Even though maximum sustained wind speeds dropped from 100 mph
to 85 mph overnight Friday, the spread and slow speed of Irene
could still translate into dramatic flooding in affected areas,
"The emphasis for this storm is on its size and duration, not necessarily how strong the strongest winds are," National Hurricane Center expert Mike Brennan told the Associated Press.
Wind and rain had cut power to 91,000 people on the North
Carolina coast, including at least one hospital, the
The current forecast places the Irene over New England by Monday
morning, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. New York
City was expected to be hit by late Saturday night or Sunday
morning, and officials were preparing to shut down the city's
massive subway system, as well as all five airports, by noon
The New York Times reported. The city has ordered the
evacuation of more than 300,000 people from low-lying areas.
Meanwhile, federal officials offered residents advice on how to
prepare for the possibility of widespread damage and power
W. Craig Fugate, administrator for the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, told the
Times that Irene could dump up to 10 inches of rain in some
areas. "This will not just be a coastal storm," he stressed. "We
can see impacts well inland."
Steps that residents should take include putting together an
emergency kit with 72 hours' worth of food and water, developing a
family communications plan, and listening to the radio or TV for
information about risks and evacuations.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an alert Friday
telling residents to have a plan for storing emergency medications
and medical supplies safely, particularly those people with health
concerns or those in areas where the power goes out.
Only lifesaving drugs should be taken if the container is
contaminated; all other medications should be thrown away if they
are exposed to contaminated flood water. Insulin loses its potency
in warm temperatures, so try to keep it as cool as possible, the
alert said. If you store it on ice, do not let it freeze,
If you have a "life-supporting" or "life-sustaining" device that
depends on electricity, call your doctor's office for information
on how to maintain function in the event of a loss of power.
Should flooding occur, do not consume any food that may have
come into contact with floodwater. Check with your local health
department to assess if tap water is safe to drink -- if it is not,
drink bottled water or boil water for one minute before
Other federal government recommendations if the hurricane is
likely to strike your area include:
People should evacuate under the following conditions:
If you are unable to evacuate, go to your safe room. If you do
not have a safe room, you should:
The U.S. government's Ready America website has more about
staying safe during a hurricane.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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