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Massachusetts Braces For Hurricane Irene

By Johanna Kaiser, Associated Press
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A sign on Hatteras Island in the North Carolina Outerbanks on August 25, 2011. (Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

A sign on Hatteras Island in the North Carolina Outerbanks on August 25, 2011. (Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

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BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts emergency management officials were holding meetings with local and state officials as they prepared for the many possible paths of Hurricane Irene.

Peter Judge, a spokesman for MEMA, said Thursday there remained uncertainty over the path and intensity of the storm when it reaches the state — likely on Sunday — so they are preparing every region for the potential impact.

Hurricane Irene: Check Latest Satellite Images | Tracking Map

“We’re not moving assets around with each projection. This is a work in progress,” said Judge.

The agency has been working with more than 300 community officials to help cities and towns make plans to handle whatever the storm brings.

Related: Hurricane Plan – Before The Storm

“We want to make sure we have all our ducks in a row,” said Judge.

Check: Interactive Radar | Current Conditions | Weather Map Center

Officials are providing equipment, such as sandbags and radios, to communities that are short on supplies.

The National Guard, Coast Guard, and the American Red Cross have also joined the agencies operations center in Framingham.

A spokesman for Gov. Deval Patrick said the governor is receiving briefings from emergency management and public safety officials and is following the storm closely.

Coastal communities in particular are bracing for the storm.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Karen Twomey reports from Marshfield

In Scituate, where a December blizzard brought massive waves that breached a 30-foot section of seawall and flooded several homes, town officials are confident the shored up seawall can withstand the tidal surge the hurricane is expected to bring.

Town administrator Patricia Vinchesi said the wall has a temporary patch made of sand and armor stone while the permitting process for a permanent concrete patch is under way.

She said while there might be minor seepage, “We have every confidence that the patch will be fine. It’s designed to dissipate wave action.”

Officials worry the hurricane could cause further misery for victims of the June 1 tornadoes that devastated parts of western and central Massachusetts.

Many buildings and homes are still damaged from those storms.

“The American Red Cross has contacted us regarding concern for some people who may have tarps on their roof and things like that,” said Thomas Walsh, a spokesman for the Springfield mayor’s office.

“Preparations will be made that if in fact we do need to open shelters in Springfield, they can be done on a moment’s notice,” Walsh said.

But Chris Kuczarski, an emergency planner in the city, said shelters could also be susceptible to wind damage and tornado victims might consider finding a new place to ride out Irene.

Utilities around the state were bracing for the possibility of widespread power outages caused by high winds.

Western Massachusetts Electric Co. said in a statement that it has suspended all scheduled time off for employees and are lining up contractor crews to assist in restoring power if needed.

WBZ-TV’s Sera Congi reports from Bourne

The storm is expected to disrupt ferry service to the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

The Steamship Authority said Thursday that it anticipates ferries being suspended at some point during the day on Sunday, with service not resumed until sometime on Monday.

In the meantime, the agency said it would run extra ferry trips for those who want to get off the islands before the storm.

The White House said President Barack Obama was being kept abreast of East Coast preparations for the hurricane as the first family continued its Martha’s Vineyard vacation.

So far, the president has not moved up his plans to leave the island on Saturday.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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