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The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for the Outer Banks of North Carolina early Thursday as officials calculated what they need to do if Irene becomes the first major hurricane to strike the East Coast in seven years.
They’re scrambling to inspect bridges, dusting off evacuation plans and getting sandbags ready for potential floods. And considering where and when to move people out of harm’s way.

“You have to recognize that you’re living here on an island, and island living represents certain risks,” said Edward Mangano, county executive in Long Island’s Nassau County, where school buses were being moved to higher ground in case they’re needed to evacuate residents to storm shelters. “And those risks appear now, at least, to be tracking toward us.”

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