Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is urging East Coast residents from the Carolinas to New England to heed evacuation orders ahead of Hurricane Irene.
Napolitano, whose plea was echoed Friday by Federal Emergency Management Agency director Craig Fugate, said the storm is likely to have an impact well beyond coastal areas and residents should follow whatever instructions are given by local and state authorities.
Evacuations have already begun in North Carolina, low lying parts of New York City, and other areas where forecasters have predicted significant impacts from the storm.
Napolitano said residents in the densely populated northeast corridor should be prepared for heavy rains, downed trees, and possibly extended power outages. Flooding and storm surge remains a significant concern of New York, she said.