WNY Locals Get Ready To Help As Hurricane Approaches U.S.

August 23, 2011 Updated Aug 23, 2011 at 6:55 PM EDT

By Jennifer Stanonis

...
August 23, 2011 Updated Aug 23, 2011 at 6:55 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) -- Hurricane Irene is expected to make U.S. landfall possibly as a category four hurricane this weekend. Irene is the first hurricane in more than a year that could seriously threaten our nation. The large storm could bring heavy rain to the eastern coast of Florida starting late Thursday and then a likely direct hit to the Carolina coast on Saturday, with winds more than 130 miles per hour.

At the American Red Cross in Buffalo volunteers are ready to go south if needed as Irene heads toward the southeast coast. "Our volunteers are really good and our staff and they pay attention to the forecasts and to the plans," Jay Bonafede, a spokesperson at the American Red Cross Greater Buffalo Chapter, said. "There's a database for the volunteers nationally where they put the ones who are available to travel nationally and... can be called."

Travel plans to and from the potential impact zone are being adjusted by some travelers, which may include a professional sports team. Jacksonville's NFL team may need to adjust flight plans since there's a scheduled game against the Buffalo Bills at home in Orchard Park on Saturday. "We're aware of the weather situation down there," Buffalo Bills CEO Russ Brandon said. "The league will work in conjunction with Jacksonville and they'll alleviate any concerns, but right now it's business as usual at Ralph Wilson Stadium."

Predictions of the exact path of Irene vary by hundreds of miles. One model even has the storm turning back out to sea before any potential damage to the east coast. But this storm does have the potential to cruise all the way up the eastern seaboard bringing a lot of rain and wind to places not used to tropical systems so emergency officials in several states are paying close attention to Hurricane Irene.