August 25th, 2011
07:21 PM ET
VINEYARD HAVEN, MA (CNN) - After a series of briefings on Libya, Irene, and the economy, President Obama hit the beach with his family Thursday, as many people onMartha’s Vineyardwere scrambling to exit the island.
Ferries and flights were packed with passengers.
“It does get pretty chaotic on the island,” said a woman waiting to board a Cape Cod-bound ferry, “so we decided to head back home.”
Darren Johnson and his family were also waiting to board the same ferry.
“We are cutting our vacation short by three days as we go through the storm so we’re absolutely unhappy,” he said.
Those staying behind headed to a Vineyard Haven hardware store to load up on emergency supplies.
“We started seeing gas cans go, flashlights, batteries,” said store manager John Watson. “We are now pretty bare, bereft of everything. They came in for cases of water, out in the lumber yard they've been buying sheets of plywood to board up their windows and doors.”
Watson is used to this routine. While Martha’s Vineyard hasn’t been hit by a hurricane in years, he said just the threat always sends people scrambling.
“Usually as soon as it looks like it's heading our way people start moving in.”
Some marinas on the island that were packed with bobbing boats just a few days ago emptied out.
“Our customers…they've started realizing that their boats are at risk, and so they started calling to say could you pull my boat our pretty quickly,” said Sheryl RothRogers, who bought Edgartown Marine just ten weeks ago.
In the middle of the island not far from the airport, county emergency management officials huddled around a large table to prepare for the hurricane.
They discussed using social media, like Twitter, to warn residents and visitors.
A robo calling system where each town would be able to blast warnings island-wide is at the ready.
“We send a preliminary message…about having water, filling your bathtub, shelter in place,” said John Christensen, chairman of theMartha’s VineyardEmergency Managers Association.
“How to prepare for a storm,” he added.
On main street and on sandy beaches people were all talking about Irene and monitoring the hurricane’s track on their mobile devices.
“It's still all I can hear at the moment,” said Watson, the hardware store manager who expressed concern about the approaching storm.
“Mother nature’s going to do her own thing regardless, there's nothing we can do about it…we just try to weather it as best as we can.”