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Mass. Prepares For Possible Irene Impact

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) officials are preparing for the likelihood of Hurricane Irene impacting the state.

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

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.

"For an event that may or may not come, but from our perspective we have to prepare for the worst," said MEMA's Peter Judge.

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

Leigh Van Hoven, of Nantucket Moorings, says the island's harbormaster is cautioning all boaters there about the storm.

"If they cannot haul out their boats then the harbormaster is definitely recommending that people that are on the boats maybe find a safer [place], meaning that we do tend to have a pretty exposed harbor," Van Hoven said.

With reporting by the WBUR Newsroom and The Associated Press

This program aired on August 24, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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