SAN DIEGO - Relief teams in San Diego watched Hurricane Irene over the weekend and remained on stand-by for any requests for help from the East Coast.
The storm's track was headed up the Eastern Seaboard and washed through the biggest population centers in the country, including lower Manhattan. The last major hurricane to hit New York City was in 1938.
Maurice Luque of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said his agency had specialized teams ready to go into action if needed. Local firefighters were sent to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina and to New York after the 9/11 attacks.
San Diego-based International Relief Teams, which still has aid workers in Mississippi helping Katrina victims, is also gearing up to pitch in, Diana Starnes of the group said.
Brittany Gotschall, of the American Red Cross, San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter, said it will be up to ARC chapters at the scene to call in reinforcements.
The first efforts to help will come from nearby chapters, and then calls will go out for specialized assistance, Gotschall said.
She said ARC groups in the Midwest have already sent supplies to the East Coast.
"At the moment, we're standing by to see what's needed," Gotschall said.
FOX 5 producer Leslie Marcus was in Long Island when Irene hit North Carolina. She said New York was eerie and felt like a "ghostbusters" scene.
"It's so grey and there is this big blanket of dark clouds that's over the city, it's weird," said Marcus. "There's one little market that's open right now and it's really crowded. People are trying to get as much food as they can. They're expecting the worst. New Yorkers aren't used to this."
Jeanne Klaus is from Orange County but moved to North Carolina four years ago to teach. This was her first hurricane.
"The winds have been upwards to 90 miles per hour in our neighborhood and the noise is very eerie," said Klaus. "The heavy duty rains slap at your house and you feel like the roof is leaking. It's not, it's just the water hitting the windows and the roof at such strong force."
Klaus said she's been without power since 5 a.m. Saturday and said she didn't expect it back on for several more days. She said police are strictly enforcing a curfew and urging people not to be outside.
"You see debris flying through the air. It's kind of like Wizard of Oz and Toto. It was really weird. There's debris that's stuck the house and stuck to the shed and you hear rain, it's constant," said Klaus.