Though it had weakened somewhat, Hurricane Irene was still a massive, dangerous storm Saturday morning, and CBS News posted correspondents along the Eastern Seaboard report on how people and locales are holding up:
MARK STRASSMANN, IN HEART OF THE STORM IN KILL DEVIL HILLS, NORTH CAROLINA:
With promised menace, Irene lashed the coastal areas with whipping winds, sheets of rain ad a fury that would build for hours. Some families took refuge in emergency shelters. Daphne Olds brought her five-month old, Michaela. James and Sharon Killough grabbed their dog, Mason, and fled their mobile home.
Killough noted that news reports were comparing Irene to Hurricane Katrina so, he said, he and his wife wasn't taking any chances. And, to keep people safe, the state positioned National Guardsmen -- Iraq veterans -- on Irene's front line - almost 200 now, 2500 if needed. Said one, aside from the high winds, they should be OK - they've handled worse than this before. The Outer Banks have handled countless hurricanes. But Irene strikes almost everyone here as one they'll long remember.
CHIP REID, IN OCEAN CITY, MARYLAND:
From the lowest level to the highest level, officials here on the coast and back in Washington were sounding the alarm: Get out while you still can. Among them, President Obama, who cut short his own vacation in Martha's Vineyard to return to the White House and help coordinate the federal response to Irene. On its path up the East Coast, Irene will roar through Ocean City, Md., where deserted beaches showed that Mr. Obama wasn't the only one curtailing a vacation. One restaurant owner called it a "ghost town." He said Irene will pack a major financial wallop, because it's hitting on one of the busiest weekends of the year. Hurricane-force winds are expected to hit the Maryland and Delaware coast Saturday evening, and could last a terrifying eight hours, causing severe flooding and major damage. In Ocean City, officials are so worried they're asking people who refuse to leave for contact information for their next of kin -- just in case.
BIGAD SHABAN IN VENTNOR CITY, N.J.:
It's almost a certainty this morning. Hurricane Irene will be bringing heavy rain and strong winds to the Garden State, along with possible widespread flooding. Drivers using the Atlantic City Expressway heading east were being turned around at the Pleasantville toll plaza to keep people out of the city during the storm. Gov. Chris Christie ordered mandatory evacuations of Cape May, Atlantic, Ocean and Monmouth counties. People were listening, but tensions were running high. Long lines in Cape May County lead to confrontations. But the packed gas stations were a good sign -- coastal residents were indeed evacuating before it was too late. Store owners in Atlantic City were covering up their windows with plywood, trying to limit the damage from Irene's vicious winds. Even the Coast Guard station in Atlantic City was abandoned, its windows boarded up. Officials warned that only a limited number of emergency response personnel would be available for those who stayed behind. Friday evening, the Garden State Parkway was bumper-to-bumper heading north, away from the coast -- and was closed southbound. New Jersey Transit was suspending its commuter rail and bus services.
ELAINE QUIJANO IN LONG BEACH, N.Y., ON LONG ISLAND'S SOUTH SHORE:
In Long Island's waterfront towns, there was no calm before this storm. People were packing their bags, boarding up windows and scurrying to stock up on supplies, such as bottled water, and stores were quickly running out. Communities all along New York's barrier islands were being forced to flee ahead of the storm, and its potential twelve-foot surges. Long Island was last hit hard by Hurricane Gloria in 1985, but it was a repeat of the so-called Long Island Express from 1938 that everyone was hoping to avoid. More than 550 people died and 9,000 lost their homes. Twenty miles away: New York City, which has never been hit by "The Big One." but officials wanted to be ready if Irene races up the Hudson. The nation's largest transportation system -- New York City's buses, subways and trains - were all grinding to a halt in anticipation of Irene's arrival. And on Friday, more than 300,000 New York City residents of lopw-lying shore areas were told to evacuate before Irene barrels into the Big Apple on Sunday. One said she packed a few things, put them in her bag - and just prayed to God that everything works out.Hospitals and nursing homes in the storm's projected path were emptied of patients who were moved to other facilities and can only hope they'll be able to go back. One said she has lots of friends in her nursing home want wants to return, with the building intact.
ARMEN KETEYIAN IN NEW YORK CITY:
New York was sitting in the literal calm before the storm. But make no mistake -- a historic evacuation was in full swing. New York City has what its buildings commissioner says are 100 large, open construction sites - all potential launching pads for cranes, steel, wood and debris if caught up in the fury surrounding a sotomr like Irene. And it's not just construction sites. Everywhere you look, from restaurant awnings to soaring walls of glass, you see urban architecture that could be turned into lethal weapons when blasted by hurricane-force winds. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was taking no chances and ordered the first mandatory evacuation in city history. An estimated 300,000 residents in low-lying costal areas were told to leave places like Coney Island in Brooklyn and Rockaway in the borough of Queens. Nobody was going to be fined or jailed for disobeying the order, Bloomberg said, but, "If they don't follow this, they might die." Officials were also closing the city's entire mass transit system, the largest in the world.