Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irene floods in North Carolina and New York 'disaster'

US President Barack Obama has declared a "major disaster" in North Carolina and New York state, where swollen rivers have swamped communities in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.
Mr Obama's move allows the two states to tap extra funds for relief efforts.
Raging rivers along the eastern seaboard have given way to extensive flooding and prompted new rounds of evacuations in states like New Jersey.
The storm has been blamed for at least 45 deaths in 13 states.
Irene barrelled along the east coast over the weekend, delivering hurricane force winds in North Carolina and torrential rains in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Vermont, which forced rivers to swell and prompted extensive flooding.
Nuclear reactors affected The storm drenched the east coast with up to 15in (38cm) of rain at the weekend, setting river level records in 10 states, the US Geological Survey said.
Post-Irene damage in Windham, NY (30 August 2011) New Jersey and upstate New York have been badly affected by floods
At least 1.7 million homes and businesses in the affected areas are still without power.
Two out of three nuclear reactors in a southern New Jersey county have moved to reduce power because debris from Hurricane Irene was blocking cooling-water intakes.
Mr Obama earlier signed an emergency declaration for Vermont following the storm, which caused damage estimated at more than $10bn (£6.5bn) and forced a shutdown of New York City.
About two million people on the US east coast are still without power after Irene wreaked havoc on both small towns and major cities, some far inland.
Rescue operations continued on Wednesday in the north-east, clearing roads and delivering supplies to stranded towns - where mud-coloured floodwaters had earlier washed homes and businesses away from their foundations.
President Obama will view the damage from Irene on Sunday in Paterson, the third-largest city in the state of New Jersey.
Emergency teams in Paterson have been rescuing residents after the Passaic river reached 13ft (4m) above its banks late on Tuesday - its highest level since 1903.
The Passaic was receding on Wednesday, said James Furtak, acting emergency management director of Bergen County.
In Connecticut, the National Weather Service has warned of moderate to major flooding on the Connecticut River, which peaked in the city of Middletown at 15.4ft on Wednesday morning.
Some areas are still at risk of flooding as a series of rivers are still expected to crest, the National Weather service says.
Help requested Irene swept up the heavily populated eastern seaboard after making landfall as a category one hurricane in North Carolina.

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Immediate federal assistance is needed now to give New Jersey's residents a helping hand at an emotionally and financially devastating time”
Chris Christie Governor of New Jersey
By the time it reached New York, it had been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm.
Nonetheless, the New York subway system was closed for the first time in its history, while 370,000 people living in low-lying areas were ordered to leave their homes.
The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut requested disaster declarations on Tuesday.
In a letter to the president, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said that he had seen "hundreds of private homes destroyed or with major damage and an enormous amount of public infrastructure damage".
These sentiments were echoed in a letter to the president by Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, whose state has not yet been designated a recipient of disaster funds.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visited that state on Wednesday to survey the damage.
In Vermont on Tuesday night, more than 200 roads were blocked or had been washed away, hampering rescue efforts to as many as 13 towns.
However, roads to all but one of the towns have now re-opened, although most are passable only by emergency vehicles.
National Guard troops have brought in food, water and other emergency supplies to cut-off areas in the rural, mountainous state.
Map of towns in Vermont cut of by tropical storm Irene The roads cutting off these Vermont towns are now passable by emergency vehicles 
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