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Maryland Braces For Hurricane Irene

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Whatever Hurricane Irene does, state leaders are making sure Maryland is prepared.

Kai Jackson has more.

Hurricane Irene is a massive storm with the potential to do significant damage in Maryland. State leaders, recognizing the threat, are acting now.

On the Eastern Shore, vacationers and non-emergency workers are being told to evacuate Ocean City.

“If people are in Ocean City, whether visitors or residents, you should be doing your very best to leave Ocean City and to evacuate the island,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said.

Ocean City’s mayor says somewhere between 125,000 and 150,000 people are at the vacation destination, so evacuating them will take time and here is how they’ll do it.

Phase Three of the city’s emergency plan takes place at midnight. All non-emergency workers must evacuate. Only emergency vehicles will be allowed into Ocean City, and as of midnight, the sale of alcohol is banned.

“The police department is going to go door-to-door in Ocean City, making sure people do evacuate,” Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said.

The threat of storm surge and flooding that Maryland experienced after Hurricane Isabel has Baltimore handing out sandbags now.

The Red Cross and Towson University helped evacuate Ocean City workers. About 1,000 are staying on the campus temporarily.

“They’re coming from Ocean City,” said Doug Lent from the American Red Cross. “So these folks, when you go to Ocean City, they’re making that city run well.”

Baltimore City has 55 tons of sand for its residents as long as supplies last. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she will hold a news conference Friday morning with more information on how Baltimore is preparing for Hurricane Irene.

Widespread damage, flooding and power outages are expected when the hurricane makes landfall.

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