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Federal Officials: 'Time to Act is Now'

National Hurricane Center forecasters caution the public to not underestimate Hurricane Sandy based on its storm category or projections on where it will come ashore.

Federal emergency management and weather officials said Sunday that the window of time for preparing for Hurricane Sandy is rapidly closing.

"The time for preparing and talking is about over," said Craig Fugate, adminstrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. People need to be acting about now."

Hurricane Sandy is expected to affect as many as 50 million people as it makes its westward turn toward the East Coast.

While the most recent maps show the center of the storm tracking toward New Jersey, forecasters are hesitant to pinpoint a specific area for landfall.

Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, said forecasters are still looking for the storm to come ashore somewhere between the Delmarva coastline and Rhode Island.

Knabb cautioned the public not to focus on the track of the center of the storm or that it is a category one hurricane.

"I don't want folks to focus on the time of arrival because conditions are already starting to go down hill in coastal areas," said Knabb. "The system is large and of long duration...it could be a two-day event in many locations including inland locations."

Heavy winds are expected from the Carolinas to New England through the middle of the week. Those winds are expected to cause massive power outages. One estimate from Johns Hopkins University places the number of estimated outages at 10 million along the Mid-Atlantic to New England.

In Maryland, BGE and PEPCO have brought in crews from as far away as New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.

Storm and tidal surges will combine along the coast and could produce flooding as much as 11 feet above ground level.

Knabb said forecasters predict inland flooding will become a problem early on during the storm especially in Maryland and Pennsylvania. He added on Sunday morning that flooding could also be a problem in places like upstate New York and southern portions of Massachusettes.

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