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By CURTIS MORGAN, HANNAH SAMPSON, FRANCES ROBLES AND JACQUELINE CHARLES, miamiherald.com.
For the island chain, a storm surge of up to 11 feet could be the biggest concern from Hurricane Irene; South Florida could see rough seas and nasty weather from the fringes of the large, powerful storm.
2 P.M.: Hurricane Irene continued to intensify, reaching 120 mph as the eye crossed Acklins and Crooked Islands in the southeastern Bahamas.
The National Hurricane Center said Irene was large and dangerous storm likely to further strengthen over the next day, potentially to a Category 4 hurricane. Forecasters said the hurricane also was moving northwest, a sign it was beginning the turn expected to keep its worst winds well off the coast of Florida. Much of the Atlantic Coast, from North Carolina to New England, remained in the danger zone for a potential landfall later in the week.
As Irene battered islands at the southern end of the chain, Bahamians in Nassau stressed that they had confidence in that the nation’s strict building codes would limit losses.
"We're used to hurricanes," said Felton Rolle, who owns the Salina Point resort in Acklins, where Irene's eye crossed around noon. "We usually fare pretty well. I think the damages are not going to be major, We'll lose shingles, so the biggest problem will be clean up. It's a rural area, so there are going to be a lot of trees to clean up."