Hurricane Irene Heading North

(NECN/CNN: Shelby Lin, Atlanta) – Millions of people are without power, and at least four fatalities have been confirmed as Hurricane Irene hit the North Carolina coast early Saturday -- drenching and damaging the shoreline. Dangerous wind and rising water levels continue to threaten those in Irene's path. President Obama has declared states of emergency in nine states, and hurricane warnings remain in effect as the storm's trek continues along the East Coast.

CNN’s Shelby Lin has the latest on the storm's developments.

Hurricane Irene has its eye on the northeast after slamming into North Carolina’s coast early Saturday morning. Reports of damages are rolling in, and the numbers of residents in the dark are rising, but President Obama says the federal government is prepared.

“It's going to be a long 72 hours. Obviously a lot of families are going to be affected. What we heard, the biggest concern I'm having right now has to do with flooding and power. Sounds like that's going to be an enormous strain of a lot of states,” said the President.

North Carolina continues to experience the effects of Irene’s northbound trek along the east coast and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urges residents to take this storm seriously.

“If you receive a warning to evacuate, please do so... even if you haven't received a warning during the storm, please stay inside, quote, hunker down, until the storm passes. Stay off the roads so the roads can be clear for emergency vehicles, for our first responders,” said Napolitano.

Many in the Northeast followed evacuation orders with New York City shutting down its transit system.

“We expect a strong category 1 storm to hit us tonight with winds between 55-70mph,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Irene is expected to roar up the East Coast Saturday night as mid Atlantic residents take cover.

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