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Kathleen Koch: Fingers crossed on boardwalk

CNN's Kathleen Koch
CNN's Kathleen Koch

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VIRGINIA BEACH (CNN) -- Hurricane Isabel on Thursday began lashing the coasts of North Carolina and Virginia, and the sheer size of the Category 2 storm is worrying officials up and down the East Coast.

CNN's Kathleen Koch spoke to anchor Bill Hemmer while keeping an eye Thursday in Virginia Beach on the storm's approach.

KOCH: Bill, as you can see, the winds are blowing pretty strongly here. ... They say, of course, those winds will double by the end of the day when this storm rolls in.

This is a resort community, a beachfront community. It has pretty much emptied out to this point. They have asked most hotel guests to leave. At this point, it's mostly the media here in town.

[Officials say they] have a lot of concerns about whether or not these windows will be blown out and the impact that could have on the economy of this area, because none of the hotel windows have been boarded up. There are just too many, and they are too massive. So, everyone is just keeping their fingers crossed.

The boardwalk here at 21st Street in Virginia Beach ... [is] pretty empty. We just saw a couple of people there walking down the beach, really the only people we've seen out here all morning besides the media.

This boardwalk was especially designed to be hurricane-resistant. They built it over the last couple of years with $125 million in local and federal monies. They added about 300 feet of beach.

You can see those waves crashing in now, and they are getting closer and closer by the minute. But [by] adding the 300 feet of beach, building a concrete and taller seawall, and then this wide concrete boardwalk, they figure it gives them some sort of a buffer. They say that they can handle surges of about 9 feet here.

We are expecting by the end to have a storm surge of 5 to 9 feet. So whether or not we're going to be underwater, at least part of us, at some point here is still open to question. But we're going to keep our fingers crossed on that one.

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