DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Hurricane Irene began lashing the East Coast with rain Friday ahead of a weekend of violent weather that was almost certain to heap punishment on a vast stretch of shoreline from the Carolinas to Massachusetts.

For hundreds of miles, people in the storm’s path headed inland, made last-minute preparations and monitored the hurricane’s every subtle movement. Irene had the potential to cause billions of dollars in damage all along a densely populated arc that included Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Boston and beyond. At least 65 million people could be affected.

Detroit native Nick Taylor now works at WNVZ (Z-104) in Virginia Beach. How is he coping with the storm?

“As a Detroit native, I’m freaking out. This is my first hurricane,” said Taylor.

“It’s crazy when you are, you know, watching coverage on the news and you see things like hurricanes. It’s so far away, it doesn’t really effect you, you think ‘oh those poor people, it’s awful’ … now it’s gonna be on my front porch,” he said.

The storm is predicted to follow a northward path that could take it to New York City and beyond, affecting as many as 65 million people along the East Coast.

In New York city, mass transit has been ordered to shut down at Noon on Saturday. Mandatory evacuations were issued for some beach communities. (More on this at

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Ninety Consumers Energy employees are headed into the path of the storm to help out.  Consumers spokesman Tim Pietryga told WWJ they left at noon to assist the National Grid utility in Albany, New York.

“We generally don’t take more than 2, 3, 4 from any particular headquarters around the state so that we don’t leave ourselves depleted in the event of some type of emergency,” Pietryga said.

“Obviously, we’ve looked at the weather forecast, and the weather here in Michigan should be good for the next week or two and thought that we did have enough who were willing to go and wanted to go,” he said.

Pietryga said the group includes line workers, mechanics and technicians and are expected to be gone up to three weeks.

Speaking to the nation Friday, President Barack Obama said all indications point to the storm being a historic hurricane.

“I cannot stress this highly enough,” Mr. Obama said from Blue Heron Farm on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, where he is on vacation with his family. “If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now. Don’t wait. Don’t delay. We all hope for the best, but we have to be prepared for the worst.”

The president was to return to the White House on Saturday, the same day the storm is expected to pass through the area around the nation’s capital.

For complete coverage from CBS News, visit this link.


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