Hurricane Irene: Bob McDonnell declares state of emergency

Cars drive north on Highway 12 on Pea Island, N.C., in North Carolina Thursday. A mandatory visitor evacuation is in place in N.C.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth in advance of the approach of Hurricane Irene.

The potential for flooding from both rainfall and storm surge in coastal areas of Virginia remains high as the potential path of the Category 3 hurricane pushes more toward the Eastern seaboard. Tropical storm and hurricane-force winds have the potential to extend even further inland.

"I encourage all Virginians to gather items they may need this weekend in case of power outages and disruptions in public services and to make sure their family members and friends are also prepared for this storm," McDonnell said in a statement.

As a result of the declaration, the Virginia Emergency Operations Center is now at Response Condition, meaning the center has increased staffing 24 hours a day. The Virginia Evacuation Coordination Team has been activated to assess the storm's possible impact.

VDOT crews are on call to clear roads and the Virginia National Guard has been authorized to activate personnel.