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Staff photo by Don Himsel

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A sign on Rt. 3 in Litchfield with a message for Hurricane Irene
Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene moves toward NH on Saturday, killing two in North Carolina

Hurricane Irene continues to churn toward New England on Saturday, hitting North Carolina and claiming two lives.

It is expected to lose intensity by the time it hits New Hampshire, although it will still pack a hard punch of high winds and heavy rain that could cause this region trouble late tonight and tomorrow.

A tropical storm warning is already in effect for the Seacoast of New Hampshire and other parts of New England. A flood watch is also in effect, according to National Weather Service.

The storm, although it will be downgraded by the time it will hit here, will produce high winds and rain, with a projected impact of Saturday night into Sunday morning.

Strong winds anywhere from 39 to 73 miles per hour are expected in the region, NWS said. The winds are expected to last for hours, bringing down trees and power lines and causing widespread power outages.

In North Carolina, a man was killed outside his home by a tree limb that blew down this morning and another reportedly died of a heart attack, according to news reports.

Rainfall predictions as of Friday evening ranged from 5-10 inches across the region, with the greatest amount likely falling in the Connecticut River Valley.

The Red Cross will open a temporary shelter at Nashua High School North at 6 p.m.

All state parks and historical sites, including state beaches, will close at 6 p.m. Saturday in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene.

The National Forest Service has informed the state that it will also close the White Mountain National Forest and all of its trails and campgrounds at 6 p.m. Saturday. Forest roads will be gated, and all developed sites and backcountry shelters are being evacuated.

The Appalachian Mountain Club will close all eight of its high hunts in the White Mountains, as well as lodges in Carter Notch and Pinkham Notch. The closings will continue through Sunday. Reopening will depend on conditions.

This is peak season for people hiking through the region on the Appalachian Trail, and there are likely to be scores of people making their way through the White Mountains this weekend.

The Department of Resources and Economic Development is closing state facilities to ensure people can leave before the storm’s full impact hits the state on Sunday. DRED plans to reopen the parks and other properties on Tuesday morning, subject to any damage and debris removal needed in the aftermath of the storm.

N.H. Fish and Game Department Executive Director Glenn Normandeau is urging all outdoor enthusiasts to be out of the woods, off the water and headed for home by Saturday evening.

“It is unlikely that search and rescue operations will be feasible during the height of the storm,” Normandeau said. “For that reason, we are urging the public – whether you’re hiking, camping, fishing or boating anywhere in the state – to complete your outdoor recreation and get home by Saturday night.

“For your safety and the safety of rescue personnel, get out of the woods and off the water by Saturday evening.”

The state is also urging all private campground owners to notify guests of the impending storm and to warn them that this storm will likely bring high winds and heavy rains, which could cause flash flooding, particularly in small streams and rivers.

Public Service of New Hampshire urged customers to prepare for the possibility of power outages associated with Hurricane Irene. PSNH is already taking steps to deal with what could be a significant restoration effort.

Along with more than 100 PSNH and local contract line crews on hand, an additional 100 line crews from Hydro Quebec have been confirmed and assigned to support PSNH, and more than 90 contract tree trimming crews have been secured.

PSNH’s parent company, Northeast Utilities, has secured about 500 additional line crews from areas as far away as Alabama and Michigan. These crews are on standby and will be deployed to NU subsidiaries in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut based on the storm’s impact and damage.

PSNH reminds customers that it’s critical for their safety and the safety of line workers who will repair the electrical system that portable generators be installed correctly. To protect line workers, a generator should only be attached to the house wiring and completely isolated from the utility supply.

Otherwise, power from the generator could feed into the PSNH electrical system and possibly electrocute a neighbor or a utility worker.

For generator safety tips, visit

If the storm hits and brings down power lines, people should stay clear of fallen or sagging lines and treat all lines as if they’re live. To report such situations to PSNH, call 1-800-662-7764.

The FBI issued a warning on Friday about fraudulent e-mails and Web sites purporting to be charity efforts. Such scams have cropped up following several recent natural disasters, according to the warning, soliciting cash donations that were never intended for victims of anything.

The FBI recommends not responding to any unsolicited e-mails and to stay skeptical of anyone representing themselves as officials looking for donations via e-mail.

For more information on charity scams, visit

Albert McKeon can be reached at 594-5832 or