NORWALK - Residents living by the water are battening down the hatches in preparation for Hurricane Irene that continues to progress toward the East Coast.

The Department of Parks and Recreation is calling on boat owners to get their craft out of the water by 11 a.m. Saturday. Officials say high winds and rain can cause boats to break away from docks, causing damage to them and other property.

Freestanding boats can stay in the water, but they must be anchored down.

Longtime boaters in the area say they've seen the damage that hurricanes can do to vessels left in the water.

"I've seen 10 or 12 sailboats washed up on Saugatuck Shores," says boat owner Tony Aitoro. "I've seen a lot of boats in Norwalk that have sunk."

Weather Center