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SOUTH KINGSTOWN â€“ With a Category 3 hurricane expected to hit Southern New England by Sunday, South Kingstown officials gathered at the police department on Kingstown Road to discuss emergency plans Wednesday afternoon.
The Weather Channel said Wednesday Hurricane Irene threatens to become the strongest hurricane to hit the Northeast in a decade and South Kingstown did not waste any time making sure they were ready.
Among those making town preparations in case of emergency evacuations were representatives from the police and fire departments, emergency medical services, South County Hospital, town officials and engineers, Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), and the American Red Cross of Rhode Island.
â€śThe beauty of todayâ€™s meeting is we have time to get things locked down,â€ť Town Manager Stephen A. Alfred said.
As Hurricane Irene battered the Bahamas Wednesday evening, the National Weather Service warned interests from the Carolinas to New England should be on alert. The forecast storm track remained north-northwestward, over the Bahamas on Wednesday, and then was expected to move towards the Carolinas by Saturday. By Sunday, Southern New England is expected to start to feel the effects of Hurricane Irene.
Hurricane Irene is expected to reach a maximum of sustained winds near 120 mph. If winds strengthen, the weather service reported that it could quickly become a Category 4 hurricane. It has a one and three chance of reaching Category 5.
RIEMA reported that by 3 p.m. Saturday, bands of heavy rain should set with the storm hitting Rhode Island on Sunday. With the hide tide expected for Sunday at 7:59 a.m., the tide and the storm will move together, making the effects much stronger, RIEMA reported.
â€śFEMA is looking at Rhode Island as ground zero,â€ť Lieutenant Paul Horoho of the South Kingstown Police said.
Horoho said RIEMA advised that by 3 p.m., Saturday, the town should be done with all evacuations, especially mobile homes, which should have mandatory evacuations.
For more information, pick up a copy of today's The Narragansett Times.