Categorized | International

Irene: Wet, Deadly and Expensive, but No Monster

Adapted from reports:


By DAVE GRAM and SAMANTHA GROSS Associated Press

The storm that had been Hurricane Irene crossed into Canada overnight but wasn’t yet through with the U.S., where flood waters threatened Vermont towns and New Yorkers who returned to work had to make do with a slowly reopening transit system.

At least 21 people died in the U.S., most of them when trees crashed through roofs or onto cars. One Vermont woman was swept away and feared drowned in the Deerfield River.

Twenty homes on Long Island Sound in Connecticut were destroyed by churning surf. The torrential rain chased hundreds of people in upstate New York from their homes and closed 137 miles of the state’s main highway.

One private estimate put damage along the coast at $7 billion, far from any record for a natural disaster.

In North Carolina, where six people were killed, the infrastructure losses included the only road to the seven villages on Hatteras Island.

The storm left millions without power across much of the Eastern Seaboard, left more than 20 dead and forced airlines to cancel about 9,000 flights. It never became the big-city nightmare forecasters and public officials had warned about, but it still had the ability to surprise.

Many of the worst effects arose from rains that fell inland, not the highly anticipated storm surge along the coasts. Residents of Pennsylvania and New Jersey nervously watched waters rise as hours’ worth of rain funneled into rivers and creeks. Normally narrow ribbons of water turned into raging torrents in Vermont and upstate New York late Sunday, tumbling with tree limbs, cars and parts of bridges.

“This is not over,” President Barack Obama said from the Rose Garden.

Hundreds of Vermonters were told to leave their homes after Irene dumped several inches of rain on the landlocked state. Video posted on Facebook showed a 141-year-old covered bridge in Rockingham swept away by the roiling, muddy Williams River. In another video, an empty car somersaulted down a river in Bennington.

“It’s pretty fierce. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Michelle Guevin, who spoke from a Brattleboro restaurant after leaving her home in nearby Newfane. She said the fast-moving Rock River was washing out the road to her house.

Residents of 350 households had been asked to leave as a precaution.

Nearly 5 million homes and businesses lost power at some point during the storm. Lights started to come back on for many on Sunday, though it was expected to take days for electricity to be fully restored.

Only about 50,000 power customers in New York City went dark, but people there had something else to worry about: getting to work Monday.

The metropolitan area’s transit system, shut down because of weather for the first time in its history, was taking many hours to get back on line. Limited bus service began Sunday and New York subway service was partially restored at 6 a.m. Monday. Riders were warned to expect long lines and long waits.

Airports in New York and around the Northeast were reopening to a backlog of hundreds of thousands of passengers whose flights were canceled over the weekend. Some of New York’s yellow cabs were up to their wheel wells in water. Even passengers including a medical team travelling to Montserrat to begin work on Monday were affected.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended his decision to order 370,000 residents to evacuate their homes in low-lying areas, saying it was impossible to know just how powerful the storm would be. “We were just unwilling to risk the life of a single New Yorker,” he said.

Irene had at one time been a major hurricane, with winds higher than 110 mph as it headed toward the U.S. It was a tropical storm with 65 mph winds by the time it hit New York. It lost the characteristics of a tropical storm and had slowed to 50 mph by the time it reached Canada.

Irene was the first hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States since 2008, and came almost six years to the day after Katrina ravaged New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005.

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Adapted from reports:


By DAVE GRAM and SAMANTHA GROSS Associated Press

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The storm that had been Hurricane Irene crossed into Canada overnight but wasn’t yet through with the U.S., where flood waters threatened Vermont towns and New Yorkers who returned to work had to make do with a slowly reopening transit system.

At least 21 people died in the U.S., most of them when trees crashed through roofs or onto cars. One Vermont woman was swept away and feared drowned in the Deerfield River.

Twenty homes on Long Island Sound in Connecticut were destroyed by churning surf. The torrential rain chased hundreds of people in upstate New York from their homes and closed 137 miles of the state’s main highway.

One private estimate put damage along the coast at $7 billion, far from any record for a natural disaster.

In North Carolina, where six people were killed, the infrastructure losses included the only road to the seven villages on Hatteras Island.

The storm left millions without power across much of the Eastern Seaboard, left more than 20 dead and forced airlines to cancel about 9,000 flights. It never became the big-city nightmare forecasters and public officials had warned about, but it still had the ability to surprise.

Many of the worst effects arose from rains that fell inland, not the highly anticipated storm surge along the coasts. Residents of Pennsylvania and New Jersey nervously watched waters rise as hours’ worth of rain funneled into rivers and creeks. Normally narrow ribbons of water turned into raging torrents in Vermont and upstate New York late Sunday, tumbling with tree limbs, cars and parts of bridges.

“This is not over,” President Barack Obama said from the Rose Garden.

Hundreds of Vermonters were told to leave their homes after Irene dumped several inches of rain on the landlocked state. Video posted on Facebook showed a 141-year-old covered bridge in Rockingham swept away by the roiling, muddy Williams River. In another video, an empty car somersaulted down a river in Bennington.

“It’s pretty fierce. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Michelle Guevin, who spoke from a Brattleboro restaurant after leaving her home in nearby Newfane. She said the fast-moving Rock River was washing out the road to her house.

Residents of 350 households had been asked to leave as a precaution.

Nearly 5 million homes and businesses lost power at some point during the storm. Lights started to come back on for many on Sunday, though it was expected to take days for electricity to be fully restored.

Only about 50,000 power customers in New York City went dark, but people there had something else to worry about: getting to work Monday.

The metropolitan area’s transit system, shut down because of weather for the first time in its history, was taking many hours to get back on line. Limited bus service began Sunday and New York subway service was partially restored at 6 a.m. Monday. Riders were warned to expect long lines and long waits.

Airports in New York and around the Northeast were reopening to a backlog of hundreds of thousands of passengers whose flights were canceled over the weekend. Some of New York’s yellow cabs were up to their wheel wells in water. Even passengers including a medical team travelling to Montserrat to begin work on Monday were affected.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended his decision to order 370,000 residents to evacuate their homes in low-lying areas, saying it was impossible to know just how powerful the storm would be. “We were just unwilling to risk the life of a single New Yorker,” he said.

Irene had at one time been a major hurricane, with winds higher than 110 mph as it headed toward the U.S. It was a tropical storm with 65 mph winds by the time it hit New York. It lost the characteristics of a tropical storm and had slowed to 50 mph by the time it reached Canada.

Irene was the first hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States since 2008, and came almost six years to the day after Katrina ravaged New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005.