Homeowners board up their windows with plywood. Posted to Twitpic by @dawnmommyof3
Sixty-five million people living in the eastern United States are gearing up for a powerful hurricane this weekend. Hurricane Irene is expected to hit North Carolina Saturday, before sweeping all the way up the coast on its way to Canada. Our Observers in the USA tell us how they’re preparing to weather the storm.
Officials have ordered evacuations in numerous cities along the coastline. Inland, residents remain on high alert, many of them boarding up their windows and preparing emergency kits in case of power outages. Plywood, bottled water and electricity generators are flying off stores shelves.

"All the bottled water is now gone from the stores"

Emily Dixon lives in Greenville, North Carolina, just over an hour’s drive from the coastline.
We have a big river going through the city, so every time a hurricane of this magnitude comes anywhere close to us, we have to worry about flooding. Lots of people from closer to the coast have moved into Greenville. All the hotels are full. And lots of residents of Greenville have gone even further inland.
I don’t have anywhere to evacuate to, so I’m staying put. I have stocked up on water and canned food. All the bottled water is gone from the stores now. I took off work this weekend, because there’s no way I’m driving in this weather. My tiny car would get blown off the road.
In this area, we’re used to hurricanes – we were battered by Hurricane Floyd back in 1999. So we’re prepared. Still, I’m definitely worried about the river flooding, because the last time it flooded it water ran through most of the city, washing away lots of people’s houses.”
A supermarket running low on bottled water due to people stocking up before Hurricane Irene. Posted to Twitpic by @eludico

"I have an emergency radio, which I bought after 9/11 but have never used"

Alan Sommerman lives in New York City, where residents are gearing up for high wind and potential flooding.
I live in an apartment in Manhattan, so the physical dangers are minimal. I prepared by buying bottled water since a huge storm can result in temporary contamination of the water supply. Other basic necessities are good books and dark chocolate. I have an emergency radio (which I bought after 9/11 but have never used), candles, matches and a flashlight. I will not use the elevator during the storm – I’m concerned I could get stuck there if there is a power outage. I am hoping that Irene moves out to sea before hitting New York.”
A hurricane kit prepared by @bhalladay. Posted to Twitpic.

"We'll be checking on the elderly in our neighbourhood"

Deborah Bradley lives in Bronxville, about an hour north of New York City.
We’re a bit worried here, so we’re getting prepared. We’re told there could be electricity outages and flooding. I’m going to go buy water and canned food, and make sure we have flashlights ready. We will also be checking on the elderly in our neighbourhood.
We were going to go to our summer house on the east end of Long Island this weekend, but cancelled those plans. It’s on the harbour, so it’s best to stay away. We keeping our fingers crossed, hoping our home will weather the hurricane. Right now it’s hard to image a hurricane is coming our way – it’s beautiful out. Truly the calm before the storm!”