As you know, Hurricane Irene is making its way up the East Coast of the United States. Make no mistake: This is a large and destructive storm and needs to be taken seriously, especially by the millions of people who live, work or travel in Irene’s projected path.
Time is quickly running out for people to make emergency preparations and move out of harm’s way.
According to our meteorologists at Commerce/NOAA’s National Hurricane Center , Irene will approach the coast of North Carolina tonight, then move north and affect the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Irene is a large storm and its high winds and heavy rain will affect a large area. Hurricanes like Irene are capable of causing other serious and life-threatening hazards, such as coastal surges, inland flooding and tornadoes.
We strongly urge all affected Commerce employees and their families to finalize their preparations, so that they can meet their basic needs for a minimum of 72 hours. Visit FEMA’s preparedness sites www.ready.gov  or www.listo.gov  for tips on how you can make an emergency kit and put an emergency plan in place.
To follow the latest on Hurricane Irene, please visit NOAA’s National Hurricane Center on the Web at www.nhc.noaa.gov/#IRENE  and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NHC_Atlantic . Monitor local media or listen to NOAA Weather Radio  for the latest developments and check your local National Weather Service forecast at www.weather.gov . We also encourage you to consult our Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide .
Moreover, please heed the direction of your local officials, and be sure to know your evacuation route in case evacuation orders are given.
Should you need to seek higher ground or take cover, shelters in North Carolina and other states are being prepared along the East Coast. You can find more information about open Red Cross shelters at www.redcross.org .
We’re ready. Please be ready, too.
Commerce and NOAA have been actively mobilizing: Our National Hurricane Center meteorologists have been issuing forecasts, watches and warnings to the media, emergency managers and the public. At the same time, we’re also preparing to respond if necessary to Irene’s aftermath when National Weather Service local forecast offices will issue a variety of severe weather alerts for inland high winds, flooding and severe weather, including tornadoes.
The larger federal government family is aggressively preparing for two phases of this operation–response and recovery–and has teams and assets moving into all of the states/regions across the East Coast that will be impacted by Hurricane Irene. We are continuing to do everything we can to support the governors and their teams.
On a final note, I want to thank all the NOAA staff who have been working hard this week to ensure that Americans have the most accurate and timely storm updates, watches and warnings—as well as those who will be working through the weekend and coming days to see this storm through and assist in the response phase. Your service to Commerce and the nation is deeply appreciated.