Already a killer storm, Irene sloshed through the New York metropolitan area Sunday, briefly flooding parts of the city and severing power to a million people but not provoking the doomsday urban disaster that had been feared.
Diminished to a tropical storm and racing to its own overnight demise in New England and Canada, Irene killed at least 18 people in six states. More than 4.5 million customers lost power along the East Coast and well inland. Initial property damage estimates ranged up to $7 billion.
And it was not over yet.
“Many Americans are still at serious risk of power outages and flooding, which could get worse in coming days as rivers swell past their banks…,” President Barack Obama said Sunday evening. “There are a lot of communities that are still being affected.”
Irene dumped immense amounts of rain on a region already saturated by summer downpours. Many communities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, upstate New York, Connecticut, Vermont and elsewhere endured life-threatening floods and toppling trees.
State and local authorities warned of more to come and they begged residents not to become complacent. It takes some time for rain runoff to accumulate, they said, tree roots were weakening in the over-moist soil and the danger will not end for days.
“Stay inside,” Gov. Chris Christie told New Jersey residents. “The real issue that we’re going to have to deal with now is flooding. We’re going to experience major flooding. Some rivers haven’t crested yet, and it’s still raining.”
Christie noted at least 300 road closures and obstructions across his state, though he said the New Jersey Turnpike and bridges were clear, so tree-clearing equipment was on its way. Deep floods swamped portions of Hackensack, Westwood, Ridgewood, Hillsdale and other communities in New Jersey.
In New York City, ocean water invaded some beachside ...