August 29th, 2011
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Many Americans are still at risk: Obama

irene-hurricaneNew York: On its march up the East Coast, hurricane Irene killed at least 20 people, left some 5 million homes and businesses without electricity, caused widespread flooding and uprooted thousands of trees. Suburban New Jersey and rural Vermont were the worst hit. New fatalities were reported in the state of Pennsylvania as per the reports of US officials.

By late Sunday afternoon, Irene brought with it tropical storm conditions to the six states of New England. Irene was still a tropical storm, packing winds of 50 mph as it approached Canada, the US National Hurricane Center said. It wasn’t immediately clear how much Irene would cost but in New Jersey alone the damage was expected in “the billions of dollars,” Governor Chris Christie told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Six deaths have been recorded in North Carolina, where Irene made landfall early Saturday morning with 85-mile (140-kilometre) per hour winds, before heading up the eastern seaboard and scoring a rare hit on New York. Four more deaths were recorded in Pennsylvania, including two men, one in a tent and another in a camper who were crushed by falling trees.

Irene forced the closure of New York’s mass transit system, which will crawl back to service on Monday starting at 6 am,New York City’s 8.5 million people are not used to hurricanes and the city is plagued by aging infrastructure, leading many to issue dire warnings in recent days about what the hurricane could bring.

The storm zone stretched from Massachusetts’ eastern islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket to the western Berkshires mountain range, where authorities braced for dam failures because of the heavy rains. Wall Street seemed largely unaffected as did Ground Zero, where the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks is soon to be observed.

The impact was felt harder on Long Island. The waves at Long Beach, which faces the Atlantic Ocean, crested over the boardwalk and onto the streets, taking with them a two-story life-guard station.

After Irene, weather watchers were keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Jose, which formed near Bermuda. This year has been one of the most extreme for weather in US history, with $35 billion in losses so far from floods, tornadoes and heat waves.

President Barack Obama warned the region’s problems were far from over. “Many Americans are still at risk of power outages and flooding which could get worse in the coming days as rivers swell past their banks,” Obama said, promising federal government help for recovery efforts.




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