Evacuations have begun in areas of the US East Coast likely to be hit by Hurricane Earl.

Hurricane Earl took aim on the Outer Banks of North Carolina early Thursday as the powerful storm prepared to take a swipe at the Eastern Seaboard.

Hurricane warnings and watches stretched from North Carolina to Delaware, and covered parts of Massachusetts as Earl strengthened late Wednesday.

President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration for North Carolina on Wednesday evening.

"The president's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures," a FEMA statement said.

Michael Schramel said he will leave if Earl becomes a Category 4 storm, and said he is "a little bit nervous. ... A 4 would be devastating."

"We are concerned about the storm, and it is important that people aren't here who don't understand the [potential] flooding issues," said Alan Sutton, the owner of Tradewinds Bait and Tackle on Ocracoke Island. But for regular residents, he said, the threat of hurricanes is "just part of living here."

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Hurricane Earl is approaching the United States just ahead of Labor Day, a holiday weekend that many families spend at the beach.

Next on the horizon for the Caribbean and the United States is Tropical Storm Gaston. Although far from land, Gaston -- currently packing 40 mph winds -- is expected to become a hurricane on Saturday. The storm is in the far eastern north Atlantic Ocean about 1585 miles (2550 km) east of the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean's Leeward Islands.



The hurricane has strengthened to a category four storm again, generating sustained winds of 215km/h (135mph).


President Barack Obama said officials needed to be ready for a "worst case" scenario in a call to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.
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"The most important thing for people living in Earl's potential tract to do is to listen to and follow the instructions of their local officials"

Evacuations have begun in areas of the US East Coast likely to be hit by Hurricane Earl.

The hurricane has strengthened to a category four storm again, generating sustained winds of 215km/h (135mph).

President Barack Obama said officials needed to be ready for a "worst case" scenario in a call to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency

North Carolina's Governor Beth Perdue has declared a state of emergency.

US officials have ordered a mandatory evacuation for thousands of visitors and residents on Ocracoke Island and Hatteras Island.