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Massachusetts Prepares For Hurricane Irene

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In this handout image provided by NASA acquired by the crew of the International Space Station, Hurricane Irene is seen August 22, 2011 over the coastal waters of Venezuela. (Photo by NASA via Getty Image

In this handout image provided by NASA acquired by the crew of the International Space Station, Hurricane Irene is seen August 22, 2011 over the coastal waters of Venezuela. (Photo by NASA via Getty Image

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Residents and Massachusetts emergency management officials are preparing for the likelihood of Hurricane Irene impacting the state.

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A spokesman for the state agency says officials are taking the threat “very seriously” even though Irene is not expected to hit Massachusetts until the weekend, and it could be downgraded to a tropical storm by that time.

Related: Hurricane Irene – What To Expect

WBZ-TV’s Jonathan Elias Spoke To Boaters

State officials have been spending the week on the phone with officials in other New England states, FEMA and the National Weather Service to make sure the region is fully prepared.

That includes ensuring that communications systems are working; there are enough sandbags; everyone has the proper phone numbers; and staffing plans are up to date.

Even if Irene stays off shore, it is still expected to bring high winds and heavy rain.

WBZ-TV’s Bill Shields reports

We’re going to keep an eye on things hour by hour,” says the President of Kingman Yacht Center in Bourne.

Scott Zeine says there’s no panic, just concern. “We’ll know more by tomorrow morning.”

Tom and Deborah Hawkins were leaving the marina on their 35′ sailboat, with five young sailors on board.

“It’s suspposed to be a three-day cruise,” said Tom, “but if the hurricane starts pointing this way, we’ll come back on Friday”.

Everywhere along the Cape and South Coast Wednesday, people were watching forecasters and getting prepared. “Yea, we’re getting busy, pulling boats out of the water,” said Lauren Lemieux of Barden’s Marine Center, “a lot of owners are calling and asking to bring their boats on shore,” she said.

Marion’s harbormaster, Mike Cormier, remembers when Hurricane Bob left boats on Front Street, but maybe not this time. “Many of the moorings are now Helix screw-in, they won’t go anywhere.”

In Wareham, the manager of an Aubuchon Hardware store says the run is already happening. “Propane, batteries, that’s what people are buying, ” said Bob Cooney, “and I hope we have a truck coming in tonight or tomorrow…we need hurricane supplies.”

WBZ-TV’s Bill Shields contributed to this report

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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