Florida, Carolinas Brace for a Category 4 Irene

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People from Florida to the Carolinas are preparing for the first big hurricane threat of the season.
    
Currently, Hurricane Irene is cutting a destructive path through the Caribbean. Trees and power lines have been knocked down, streets flooded, and buildings damaged.

The storm is gaining strength as it makes its way towards the U.S. southern coast.

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

Irene is currently a Category 2 storm, but forecasters say that by the time the storm reaches Florida it could be a Category 4 storm with potential wind velocity between 131 and 155 miles per hour.

Residents in the storm's projected path are preparing for the worst.

"I remember Hurricane Andrew, and I was completely unprepared for it," Florida resident Mitch Vega said. "But this time I'm going to be prepared."

WeatherBELL's Joe Bastardi says strong winds and rains could mean lots of tree damage.

"In the Carolinas, this is looking as bad as Isabel was in 2003 and Floyd in 1999," he said. "You folks that live there understand."

Bastardi talked more about Hurricane Irene on the CBN News Channel's Midday News, Aug. 23.

Stay up to date with the latest bulletins, advisories, etc. on Hurricane Irene by clicking here.

"Generators, your flashlights, your lanterns, your charcoal, and then at the end we have water and gas cans for your generators and stuff like that," explained Home Depot manager Victor George.

Officials could start issuing hurricane watches for parts of the U.S. as early as Wednesday.

After coming ashore in Florida, Irene is expected to take aim at the Carolinas and then work its way up the East Coast.

It will be the first major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since 2008 when Hurricane Ike hit Texas.

Meanwhile, Irene is currently moving past the Dominican Republic and towards the island nation of Haiti.

Based on the system's path, it appears the storm will avoid a direct hit on the country.

However, even heavy rain produced by the storm could destroy many of Haiti's tent neighborhoods since the earthquake residents remain focused on every day basic survival rather than hurricane preparation.

Haitians are hoping Irene bypasses their country.

"Let the storm go somewhere else," one Haitian resident said.

Forecasters warn that the storm could change direction at any time.  They say predictions made days in advance can be off by as much as 100 miles.

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