Over 70 million people are bracing themselves to face extensive damage set to be left by Hurricane Irene, a storm expected to leave behind billions of dollars in damage.
The storm, set to move up along the eastern seaboard, is expected to impact the country’s wealth and resources.
“This is going to have an impact on the United States economy," Max Mayfield, the former chief of the National Hurricane Center said, according to ABC News. “One of my greatest nightmares was having a major hurricane go up the whole Northeast Coast.”
According to Mayfield, the damages may amount to billions.
Craig Fugate, director of FEMA, said the amount of people that will be subject to the storm make the difference.
"We've got a lot more people that are potentially in the path of this storm," Fugate told the Associated Press. "This is one of the largest populations that will be impacted by one storm at one time. A little bit of damage over big areas with large populations can add up fast."
Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Secretary, said she spoke with East Coast government officials in preparation for the storm.
"Given the unpredictability of these storms, we are currently planning for several scenarios, including potential impacts to major metro areas and critical infrastructure," Napolitano said in a statement from the Department of Homeland Security.
As of Friday, state emergencies were declared in Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Fugate said people should take the storm seriously.
"If you're still in denial, it's too late. You need to get ready … I do expect a lot of trees down, a lot of power outages, a lot of flooding, so now is the time to get ready for those types of impacts," Fugate said. "Get your supplies, make sure you have plenty of batteries. If the power goes out, especially with all of these trees, it may take them days or longer to get the power back up."