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What Hurricane Irene holds in store for New York City [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2011-8-28 07:53:58 |Display all floors

Obama takes charge at hurricane command center

28 August 2011.

US President Barack Obama warned on Saturday that the US east coast was in for a "long 72 hours" as he led his government's response to Hurricane Irene at a disaster command center in Washington.

Obama chaired a meeting at the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC), set up at the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) headquarters in Washington, which is marshalling federal and local hurricane-relief efforts.

"This is going to be a tough slog getting through this thing," Obama said during a video teleconference including senior federal officials and local government agencies in the east coast path of Irene.

"It's going to be a long 72 hours. Obviously a lot of families are going to be affected ... the biggest concern I'm having right now has to do with flooding and power," Obama said during the videoconference.

"(It) sounds like that's going to be an enormous strain on a lot of states" that could last days, or even longer in some cases, he said.

Officials said the NRCC brings together multiple government agencies and departments to coordinate disaster response with federal, state and local groups around the clock.

The White House said Obama heard updates from governors and emergency management officials in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.

The White House appears to have carefully considered the lesson of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when a botched response effort and confusion between state and federal agencies inflicted a heavy political price on president George W. Bush.

Obama returned home one night early on Friday from his island vacation on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts and appeared keen to be visibly in charge as the response to Hurricane Irene unfolds.

Earlier on Saturday, Obama held a conference call with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate and other senior emergency management officials.

"The president reiterated that we know that this storm's impacts will continue to be felt throughout the weekend and that we still have work ahead of us to support potentially impacted states and communities," the White House said.

Sustained winds of 85 miles (140 kilometres) an hour lashed coastal areas as Irene made landfall near the southern end of a chain of barrier islands that ring the North Carolina coast, the National Hurricane Center said.

Cities along the east coast of the United States - from Washington to New York to Boston - braced for the impact, with hundreds of thousands of people ordered to evacuate low-lying areas.

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Post time 2011-8-28 12:29:15 |Display all floors

Hurricane Irene tears into New York

28 August 2011.

The edge of Hurricane Irene hit New York late Saturday, bringing torrential rain, freshening winds and fears of widespread flooding after killing at least eight people in its run up the US east coast.

The first hurricane to hit the Big Apple in a generation swept in overnight, accompanied by lightening, reports of tornados and deafening rainfall.

The city was a ghost town after 370,000 people were told to evacuate flood-prone areas, including near Wall Street and at Coney Island.

Subway trains, buses and the famous Staten Island ferry were all shut down Saturday.

"The edge of the hurricane is finally upon us," Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a press conference, adding that "the time for evacuations is over."

"At this point, if you haven't evacuated, our suggestion is you stay where you are," he said.

"Nature is a lot stronger than the rest of us."

Packing winds of up to 85 miles (140 kilometers) an hour, Irene was a deadly category one storm when it made landfall at 8:00 am (1200 GMT) Saturday at Cape Lookout, North Carolina, near a chain of barrier islands.

At least eight people, including an 11-year-old boy struck by a falling tree, died in storm-related incidents along the eastern seaboard.

Irene knocked out power supplies for well over a million people, triggered the cancellation of more than 8,000 flights, and forced nearly two million people to evacuate, half of them in New Jersey.

The eye of the storm was expected to reach New York by around midday (1600 GMT) Sunday.

Officials said the biggest danger was from flooding caused not just by tropical rainfall but a surge of wind-driven seawater pushing up from the Atlantic, especially at high tide early Sunday.

City areas at risk of being swamped included parts of the financial district in Manhattan and low-lying beach resorts in Brooklyn and Queens and on nearby Long Island.

Boat owners scrambled to get their craft ashore and officials across New Jersey and New York pleaded with residents to keep off beaches.

Officials say Manhattan's skyscrapers are not at risk of serious damage, but warn that power outages might strand residents without light, water or elevators.

The disruption took on an international character after the area's three big airports -- John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia and Newark -- were ordered to stop all flights at 10:00pm (0200 GMT).

The website, which tracks airport arrivals and departures, estimated that 8,337 flights would be cancelled during the weekend, mainly US domestic trips. It warned that the figure would rise.

President Barack Obama, who cut short his summer vacation, visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency's operations center in Washington, where he said the east coast was in for a "long 72 hours."

Some 65 million people live in the urban corridor from Washington north to Boston, and experts have said the damage could cost anything up to $12 billion to restore.

"This is going to be a very serious storm, no matter what the track is, no matter how much it weakens. This is a life threatening storm to people here," Bloomberg said.

Irene's approach stirred painful memories of Hurricane Katrina, which smashed into the southern Gulf Coast in 2005, stranding thousands of people in New Orleans and overwhelming poorly prepared local and federal authorities.

Hurricanes are rare in the northeastern United States -- the last major hurricane to hit New York was Gloria in 1985 -- but this time authorities say they are ready.

The US military said up to 101,000 National Guard soldiers were available if needed and designated military bases in three states as staging areas.

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Post time 2011-8-30 01:31:01 |Display all floors

Irene moves to Canada

Monday 29 August 2011.

Irene moves to Canada,    US damage estimated at US$7b.

The remnants of Irene reached Canada on Monday after barrelling through the northeastern United States where the storm claimed at least 18 lives and caused estimated economic damage of up to US$7 billion.

Millions of people were without power along the East Coast after the huge storm - now downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone - passed over the Big Apple and headed for Canada.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center warned late Sunday of "major river flooding occurring in parts of the northeast," after President Barack Obama cautioned that recovery efforts would last for "weeks or longer".

"I want people to understand that this is not over," Obama said in a short statement in the White House Rose Garden.

"I do want to underscore that the impacts of this storm will be felt for some time... Power may be out for days in some areas."

The governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin, said his state was in "tough shape" while New York state's Andrew Cuomo warned of "tremendous flooding" in the Catskill Mountain area north of Manhattan.

In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie said roads and rails were "impassable" in some areas, and much of the state had seen "significant flooding".

Localised flooding occurred in the south and east of Manhattan, with more serious incidents in Brooklyn, where the famed Coney Island amusement park took a battering and outlying beaches were swamped.

There was heavy flooding along the low-lying south shore of Long Island where high tides, rain and ocean surge drove waves right up against expensive beach houses.

Floods were also reported far inland after torrential rain.

At least 18 deaths were blamed on the storm, which first slammed into North Carolina on Saturday as a Category One hurricane, before turning north up the coast and weakening.

The youngest victim, an 11-year-old boy, died when a tree crashed through his apartment building in Newport News, Virginia.

Jose Miranda, director of Eqecat Inc., a catastrophic risk management firm from Oakland, California, told The Los Angeles Times that the storm could cost insurers from US$1.5 billion to US$3 billion to cover claims for damaged homes, vehicles and businesses.

Total damage, including uninsured losses, could range from US$5 billion to US$7 billion, he said.

By comparison, Hurricane Katrina which flooded much of New Orleans in 2005, reportedly cost more than US$70 billion in insured losses alone, the paper noted.

"I think the damage is much less severe than had been feared and the economic impact will, therefore, be a lot smaller than people predicted," The Times quoted Mark Zandi, chief economist at research firm Moody's Analytics, as saying.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced that New York area airports - John F Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia and Newark - would reopen on Monday.

More than 10,000 flights were cancelled across the eastern United States.

The New York Stock Exchange said it was set to reopen as normal on Monday morning.

"The good news is the worst is over and we will soon return to restore and return mode," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, announcing that 370,000 people ordered to evacuate could now go back home.

More than a million evacuees in New Jersey were also headed home, Christie said.

City officials however warned that commuting into New York could be a nightmare this week with no firm indication of when public transport would be back on track following an unprecedented shut-down just ahead of the hurricane.

"You're going to have a tough commute in the morning," mass transit chairman Jay Walder said.

Walder said buses could start running soon, but subway trains needed extensive testing of lines and equipment.

Irene also left swaths of territory without power, including one million in New York state, most of them on Long Island, according to Cuomo.

In New Jersey, 650,000 people had lost power supplies, while in the greater Washington area, nearly two million people lost electricity.

In Massachusetts, 500,000 customers were without power.

Virginia's Governor Bob McDonnell told MSNBC his state had seen the second biggest power outage in its history.

"It's going to be days, perhaps a week, before all the power's restored. We just ask people to be patient," he said.

About 200,000 households have lost power in Canada, officials said.

Some 65 million people live in the urban corridor from Washington north to Boston.

More than 4.5 million customers lost power in that area and well inland.

Hurricanes are rare in the northeastern United States - the last major hurricane to hit New York was Gloria in 1985.

Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center reported that a new tropical storm, Jose, had formed and was approaching Bermuda.

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