Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene: Death toll nears 40 as recovery begins

Tropical Storm Irene has killed 38 people in the US, and authorities warn that flooding could continue for up to three days in northern US states.
More than five million people remain without power, while Vermont is reeling from its worst floods in many decades.
Insurance claims could top $7bn (£4.3bn), the Consumer Federation of America estimated.
Irene has passed into Canada, after causing havoc on the US east coast from North Carolina to Vermont.
Driving rains and flood tides damaged homes and cut power to more than three million people in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York alone.
Vermont governor lashes out Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will visit North Carolina and Virginia on Tuesday to survey the storm damage.
Scott Snyder from the American Red Cross: "Some rivers are still rising"
Federal Emergency Management Agency head Craig Fugate will head to Vermont.
In north-eastern Canada the first possible fatality has been recorded.
A man was swept away in Yamaska, northeast of Montreal, when two cars plunged into a chasm created when a road was washed away, Quebec police said.
Nearly a quarter of a million people in Quebec, which saw winds as high as 62mph (100km/h), lost power on Sunday night.
An Associated Press news agency tally found 38 people had been killed in 11 US states, mostly because of falling trees, ocean waves, downed power lines and raging floods caused by the storm.
In the rural state of Vermont, the last hit before Irene reached Canada, the storm washed away bridges and swamped the town of Brattleboro.
Touring the town, Governor Peter Shumlin criticised media coverage for focusing on New York, saying: "We're not Manhattan, but we have human lives here in Vermont, too."
"It breaks your heart to see the extraordinary devastation that we're seeing here in Vermont," he added.
Hundreds stranded Three deaths in Vermont have been blamed on the storm.

Storm tragedies

  • Celena Sylvestri, 20, drowned when her car filled with water on a flooded New Jersey road. She had called her boyfriend and 911 for help.
  • A New York man was electrocuted when he tried to rescue a child on a street with downed power lines.
  • Two men in Florida drowned as they tried to swim or surf rough waves.
  • Seven people were crushed by falling trees in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
In the town of Waterbury, Irene closed the Vermont Emergency Management headquarters and the Vermont State Hospital, where some 50 patients were moved to other facilities.
Authorities asked people to avoid travelling in the state, which received 11 inches (33cm) of rain, and warned of significant flooding, damaged roads and downed power lines.
The storm caused part of a ski lodge to collapse in the town of Killington, where as many as 300 guests and 100 staff were stranded on Monday due to flooded roads.
Meanwhile, nearly 100 people remained stranded in mountain towns in New York State due to washed out roads and bridges. The storm dumped 13in (30cm) of rain on the state.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said dozens of bridges and roadways would need to be repaired and that some of the state's rivers had yet to crest from flooding.
"You're going see more damage before it starts to get better," he told reporters.
In New York City, which escaped the worst of Irene's fury on Sunday, the subway network and three main airports all reopened on Monday.
More than 300,000 people evacuated from low-lying areas in New York City are now able to return home.
Counting the dead Some Americans who bought candles, canned food and other emergency provisions in recent days demanded refunds on Monday, claiming Irene's threat had been exaggerated.
A bridge in Northfield, Vermont, damaged during the storm Creeks and rivers overflowed their banks and destroyed bridges and roads in Vermont
Others held post-hurricane parties to use up the extra supplies.
Claims for wind damage are expected to be one sixth of the total sum from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and claims for flood damage one tenth, the Consumer Federation of America estimated.
Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy said on Monday that more homes were without power as a result of the storm in his state than at any other time in its modern history.
States south of New York, where Irene struck at hurricane strength on Saturday and Sunday, have begun cleaning up, assessing the damage and counting the dead.
Irene was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm and then a post-tropical cyclone.
North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue said some areas of the state were still unreachable. TV footage showed fallen trees and power lines.
Officials in Virginia have begun the clear-up, but say the damage was not as bad as feared.
Map, 29 August
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