Irene: 65 Million Residents in Hurricane's Path

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Up and down the East Coast Friday, residents were battening down the hatches in anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Irene.

More than a half a dozen states from North Carolina to New York have declared states of emergency.

"There's no excitement worth dying," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Click here to follow the latest track of Irene from the National Hurricane Center.

Overnight, Irene weakened slightly to a Category 2 storm. But the National Hurricane Center in Miami says it could easily regain Category 3 strength.     

"We've got to shore up everything that's loose," U.S. Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Thaddeus Bouchard said. "People don't realize the strength of hurricane winds. A light object becomes a missile."

Irene currently stretches 1,000 miles wide - bigger than the state of Texas - and winds are as high as 110 miles an hour.

CBN News Sr. Reporter George Thomas is on the Outer Banks in Kitty Hawk, N.C. Watch his report below, filed early Saturday.

Operation Blessing is preparing to help those affected. Jody Herrington-Gettys, who is leading the effort, shares what precautions residents should be taking.

More than 65 million Americans are in the storm's cross hairs.

"One of my greatest nightmares was having a major hurricane go up the whole Northeast coast," Max Mayfield, the National Hurricane Center's retired director, told The Associated Press.
"I'm always worried about storms. But this is going to go through one of the most populated areas on the East Coast," said Craig Fugate, administrator of Federal Emergency Management Agency.

North Carolina residents are bracing for a direct blow. Boarded windows with messages to Irene can be seen all along the Outer Banks.

Herrington-Gettys explains how victims should respond after the storm strikes. Watch more below.

"Our windows are rated for, I think, 130 miles-an-hour. And I hope that's true. But there's only one way to test it and I don't want to find out," North Carolina resident Lisa Bennett.

One hundred and eighty National Guard troops have been called up in North Carolina, with 2,300 on standby.

Watch Irene's approach from the Outer Banks of North Carolina with OBX

The Tar Heel state's governor is asking those who have chosen to ride out the storm to reconsider.

"We can always rebuild, but we cannot replace lost lives," Gov. Bev Perdue said.

Forecasters say that the storm will eventually work its way up the East Coast hugging the shoreline.

Irene could be catastrophic for New York City where the center of the storm could pass right through the heart of the Big Apple.

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CBN News
Efrem Graham

Efrem Graham

News Anchor & Reporter

Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at