As Hurricane Irene makes her way up toward the East Coast, thousands of locals and tourists have been ordered to evacuate in parts of North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia.

Nearly 200,000 people have been ordered to leave the Outer Banks of North Carolina, MSNBC reports.

We are preparing for the worst, get that plan together today, please, Gov. Bev Purdue said earlier this week.

Though the storm weakened overnight on Thursday, the National Hurricane Center confirmed that Irene, now a Category 3 storm, could gain plenty of strength before making landfall this weekend.

Residents have been boarding up their homes and shops all along eastern North Carolina. Some even included special messages to Hurricane Irene, such as Honk If You Hate Irene and Go Away Irene 2011.

North Carolina is not the only state undergoing evacuations.

A mandatory evacuation began Friday morning in Long Beach Island, N.J., as residents packed up their cars and headed out of town.

You can't compare this to other storms. We've never had a storm like this . . . with winds of plus 100 (mph), we're in trouble, Scott Cunningham, a local, told

New York officials are expected to decide on early Friday afternoon whether not to call an evacuation order for low-lying areas in the city. The decision will depend on the strength, path and speed of the storm, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters on Thursday.