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R.I. Boat Owners Remove Vessels

Along the coast statewide, many boat owners (search) and dockyard hands began removing boats in preparation for Hurricane Isabel (search) striking the East Coast. Others said they'd wait to learn more about the hurricane's path before deciding what to do.

All day Monday, vessels were being hauled from the water at Conanicut Marine Service's two yards, on the east side of the island, facing Newport.

"We're not panicking yet, but a lot of owners are calling us because they don't want to lose their boats," yard Manager Rick Smith told The Providence Journal.

Others were taking stock of the situation. "We're going to wait a day, and see how it turns," said Michael Valentine, as he chatted with another boat owner in Wickford harbor.

Gov. Don Carcieri said there was "heightened preparedness" after a Tuesday meeting with the state Emergency Management Agency.

There is "an abundance of caution because we haven't had one in a long time and a lot of us feel like we're overdue," Carcieri said.

The state is working with cities and towns to prepare evacuation routes in case the hurricane strikes. Carcieri also said the Coast Guard has urged boat-owners to remove their vessels from the water.

Valentine said he cruised around Narragansett Bay (search) on Monday, looking for activity.

"We haven't seen much," he said. "Nobody's running around pulling their boats."

Meanwhile, residents along the East Coast scrambled to ready themselves for Isabel. Residents of Ocracoke Island, on North Carolina's vulnerable Outer Banks, were ordered to evacuate Monday.

Forecasters said Isabel could hit anywhere from North Carolina to New Jersey Thursday or early Friday. The storm appeared to be weakening, but Eric Blake, a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said people on the East Coast should not let their guard down.

"Hurricanes are notorious for gaining strength as they cross the Gulfstream," he said. "Even if it weakens to a Category 2 hurricane, there's still a lot of potential for danger. People need to be prepared."

If its current track is maintained, Isabel would move inland Friday, and pass well west of Rhode Island, delivering a glancing blow of perhaps heavy rain and high winds. A storm surge of two feet would be expected Thursday, said Pam Pogue, hurricane program director for the state Emergency Management Agency.

EMA officials urged residents to have basic supplies on hand. Those include water, food, portable cooking device, batteries, a battery-operated radio and cash.