Hurricane Irene: NC evacuations underway, Navy orders Va. ships out, Va. port preparing, Ocean City enacts emergency plan, SPCA offers pet care

NC county tells 35,000 to leave as Irene looms

BUXTON, N.C. (AP) - Coastal North Carolina's Dare County has ordered all residents to move inland beginning at 8 a.m. Friday as Hurricane Irene approaches.

The mandatory order applies to all 35,000 of the county's year-round residents, not just those on the Outer Banks.

An evacuation order took effect for as many as 150,000 tourists in Dare County on Thursday.

The Dare County Control Group said in a statement Thursday that Irene poses a serious threat, with hurricane force winds and the potential for flooding over highways and roads throughout the area.

The state will be opening two shelters for residents and pets at 10:00 a.m. Friday in Roanoke Rapids and Jackson.

Navy orders Va. ships to move out of Irene's path

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - The U.S. Navy has ordered ships in southeastern Virginia to head out to safer waters to protect them from Hurricane Irene, which is approaching the East Coast.

Virginia is home to several Navy installations, including the world's largest naval base. Thursday's order affects 64 ships based in the area, some of which were already at sea.

The Navy says ships that are at sea can better weather such storms. It also will help protect piers from being damaged.

The Navy moves it ships when storms can produce winds of 50 knots and a five to seven-foot storm surge.

Forecasters have yet to pinpoint where the hurricane will make landfall. It's currently a Category 3 storm with winds of 115 mph (185 kph).{ }

Virginia port preparing for hurricane

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - The Port of Virginia is making preparations for Hurricane Irene.

Port spokesman Joe Harris says port workers are breaking up stacks of cargo containers to reduce their wind profile. Port workers are also tying down other loose items in the event the storm strikes the area. The port is the third largest on the East Coast by container units.

The port will continue to operate until the Coast Guard orders it to close to ships.

Ocean City enacts emergency plan as Irene nears

As Hurricane Irene approaches the East Coast, officials in Ocean City have initiated phase one of their hurricane action plan.

A{ }statement released Thursday said{ }city officials are asking all tourists to postpone their visit to the city until the threat is over.

They’re also urging mobile home residents and those living in flood-prone areas to secure their homes and prepare for possible evacuation.

"Ocean City is expected to receive a significant impact from Hurricane Irene," the statement read. “Easterly gale force winds should start affecting the area on Saturday, August 27 at 6 p.m. with storm force winds arriving around 4 a.m. and northeasterly hurricane force winds arriving near 6 a.m. The highest wind speeds from Hurricane Irene should occur near 9 a.m. when top sustained winds, from the north, could reach 90 mph with gusts near 112 mph. Winds should decrease below hurricane force shortly thereafter.”

Va Beach SPCA offers hurricane care for some pets

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Beach SPCA is offering to care for pets of first responders and residents who are under a mandatory hurricane evacuation order.

But the SPCA said Thursday that its shelter should be considered as a last resort. The group says the best thing pet owners can do is take their animals with them.

The SPCA will hold pets for 24 hours, unless it also is ordered to evacuate.
Pet owners must pick up their animals by 5 p.m. Sunday.

Pets must have identification tags and any required medication. Pet owners also should provide carriers, crates, leashes, shot records, food, litter and blankets.

Anyone who finds orphaned, injured or displaced wildlife following Hurricane Irene can contact the SPCA's Wildlife Referral Line at 263-4762.