Slowly following its chartered course up the East Coast, Hurricane Irene has already claimed its first lives: A North Carolina man killed outside his home by a tree limb that blew down and another who reportedly died of a heart attack, ABC News reported.
The first man was walking around his house Saturday morning, in a rural area of Nash County, where winds were blowing at more than 60 mph, when he was hit, county Emergency Management Director Brian Brantley told the Associated Press.
The second man was putting plywood over the windows of his Onslow Country, N.C. home when he suffered a heart attack and died, according to the News & Observer.
A third man has been reported missing in the Cape Fear River in Castle Hayne.
Hurricane Irene made landfall Saturday morning at about 7:30 a.m. on the coast of North Carolina. The National Hurricane Center, or NHC, reported that Irene has weakened to a Category 1 storm when it smashed into Cape Lookout, a natural barrier island 11 miles southeast of Beaufort, carrying winds of 85 mph and wind gusts of 90.
Hurricane warnings for the next 48 hours have been issued for North Carolina; Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Maryland; Delaware; New York; Pennsylvania; New Jersey; and coastal Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Defense Secretary Panetta has issued a prepare-to-deploy order for 6,500 active duty troops from all services to offer aid in the aftermath of the storm.