Update: Irene Crashes Into Major East Coast Cities – 9 Deaths Reported


Hurricane Irene may have weakened a little since coming ashore early Saturday near Cape Lookout, North Carolina, but it is still a Category 1 hurricane, and packing quite a hefty punch.

By Saturday evening, August 27, the storm had already knocked out power in more than a million homes, forced more than a million people off the New Jersey shore alone and caused at least nine deaths.

At Least Nine People Have Died

Five people died as a result of the storm in North Carolina, and three were killed in Virginia due to falling trees, emergency officials said. In addition, a 55-year-old male surfer died around noon in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

Residents in several major East Coast cities — including Washington, Philadelphia and New York — braced late Saturday for the impact from Hurricane Irene.

While the vast majority heeded calls to evacuate, emergency officials continued to plead with some stubborn residents to head to high ground, warning that heavy rains and a storm surge of 4 to 8 feet could cause widespread flooding of low-lying areas and pose untold dangers to residents from Virginia to Massachusetts.

Here Are Some Of Irene’s Highlights:

* As of 11 p.m. on August 27, Irene was 70 miles south-southwest of Ocean City, Maryland, moving north-northeast at 16 mph. It had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

* New York City ordered about 370,000 residents of low-lying areas to leave. It was the first evacuation order for the city. The city also shuttered its transit system and closed its airports

From The Washington Post:

* Conditions: The region is encountering the windiest period of the storm from now into the overnight hours, with National Airport reporting sustained winds of 29 mph and gusts of 40 mph. As the onslaught of rain continues, the National Hurricane Center reports water levels rising in the Virginia tidewater region.

* Power outages: More than 6,500 homes and businesses in D.C. are without power, 15,000 in Prince Georges County, 10,000 in Anne Arundel and 5,000 around Baltimore. Expect these numbers to rise as gusts whip through the area overnight.

* Nationwide: There were an estimated 9,000 flight cancellations nationwide, with United, Continental and Delta Air Lines canceling thousands of their flights. Air France, British Airways and other international carriers also canceled flights.

* Washington: The three airports serving the Washington area remained open Saturday evening, but most flights had been canceled. D.C. Metro is not planning to close early.

* Virginia: Mandatory evacuations were ordered for at least 11 localities, among them the Sandbridge section of Virginia Beach, a barrier island dotted with rentals, Accomack on the Eastern Shore, and for low-lying areas of Norfolk, Hampton and Portsmouth.

* New York: All three of the major airports serving New York City Newark International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia International Airport shut down for the duration of the storm on Saturday afternoon. Subways have also been halted.

I find it very humbling that in spite of all our technological advances and progress, we are still at the mercy of Mother Nature, and all we can do is defend against her. A lesson to us humans not to indulge in too much hubris?

Meanwhile, stay safe, all you East Coasters! Mother Nature is letting you know she is still in charge.

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Photo Credit: iStock


Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener4 years ago


Diane L.
Diane L.5 years ago

.....would I live on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius? Nope. I also wouldn't live in Packwood (Washington) which is at the base of Mt. Rainier, either. The only way out of there in the winter is by helicopter or on one road, so if that road is blocked, guess what? Hon, what I'm saying is there are risks involved with living anywhere, and I don't "get" subjecting myself to what you subject yourself to, but to get back on the "topic", the thing with Irene is that the path was unexpected and highly UNUSUAL. I don't think anyone had a way of controlling that, not even Moses.

Diane L.
Diane L.5 years ago

........or from overhead roadways (bridges, etc.) that collapse. I remember one when I was 6 years old, and the pictures on the wall swayed. In 1967, I was working at Boeing in an old warehouse building and the overhead air ducts fell from the ceiling and we watched the telephone poles outside the big doors swaying back & forth! Yes, scared to death at the time. In 1997 or 1998 (Nisqually Quake), I was home sleeping (worked graveyard shift) and worse thing that happened was a tiffany lamp I had on my headboard of my bed fell off and the glass shade broke. So, let's see.....doing "the math", I'm 69, there have been 3 earthquakes that were considered "major" in my lifetime, so that's one every 33 years. Next one, I'll be too old to give a rip. Now, if they had a 6.1 or 6.3 on the seismograph every year, I think I'd consider living somewhere else, but WHERE? They have earthquakes and blizzards in Alaska, there have been floods and blizzards in Montana, North and South Dakota, and horrible wildfires AND earthquakes in California. Dust storms, tornadoes and hurricanes in Texas, the midwest can have dust storms terrible tornadoes (which strike regularly and without more than a few seconds warning), and the entire south is subjected to hurricanes. There is nowhere 100% safe from everything. I think enduring yearly hurricanes, yearly wildflires, yearly blizzards, and weekly tornadoes are a lot worse than a once every 33-year "risk" of a shaker. Would I live on the slo

Diane L.
Diane L.5 years ago

Erica, don't you think I've studied all the "possibilities"? Mt. Rainier is 150 miles to the southeast, and yes, the prevailing winds ALWAYS go to the east........mainly NORTHEAST. When Mt. St. Helens erupted, I didn't even know about it until I heard it on the news, and I could see it from my workplace at the time. The ash ALL went to the east side of the state, and covered everything from the Tri-Cities to Winthrop and into Northern Idaho. Not a speck where I live. I WATCHED the 2nd eruption from the window in our employee lunchroom, yet didn't hear a thing nor did we get any "stuff" around here. Rainier COULD theoretically affect some of the communities at lower elevations on the west side, mainly if the glaciers are melted or there is a signicant lava flow, but there again, I'm too far west and too high up.......Commencement Bay and part of Puget Sound are "in-between", so even IF the water level rose significantly, I wouldn't be affected at all. Earthquakes can't be predicted. I'm almost 70, remember 3 major ones, and until the seismographs start to wiggle, no warning. All one can do is know how to duck & roll. They do show what to do if one is happening, but the earth isn't going to "open up and swallow" people........they don't do that like in the movies! The deaths you hear about in the ones in Japan and elsewhere are usually from sub-standard buildings that weren't retrofitted for earthquakes (high rises) and old, brick structures, or from overhead roa

Erica B.
Erica B.5 years ago

Geez, Diane, your attitude about earthquakes is incredibly strong! I live in Florida, where hurricanes can be the "norm," depending on the year. 2004 was a VERY BAD year. But to NOT know that a disaster is coming, like an earthquake or a volcanic eruption? Uh uh...no way! All the bottled water, canned foods, and generators in the world will help if I get swallowed up into the earth, get choked to death in an ash cloud or burned to death in a pyroclastic flow! Yea, I know you live on a hill so if Mt. Ranier blows, all the "stuff" will go in another direction...but doesn't that depend on the prevailing winds at the time?

I'm not trying to freak you out, Diane, I'm just saying Mother Nature has a way of surprising us when we least expect it...look at all the people in Vermont that weren't even close to the shore, yet they suffered terrible flooding from Hurricane Irene.

You just never know...

Diane L.
Diane L.5 years ago

(STILL got cut off!).......at the time, I had 9 horses, 2 dogs, 3 cats, and was still working, so took sponge baths, brushed my teeth at work and brought home milk jugs of water for my "critters". I've moved to a different property since, but am still rural and on a private well. I won't risk going thru that again, so while very expensive, I now have an "inline" generator, which will cut in IMMEDIATELY if there's a power outage and run everything but my central furnace. It will operate the well, and I'm too old now to want to drive 11 miles to the nearest gas station to get a gallon of water! I'm high on a hill, so if Rainier blows, the winds will carry "stuff" the other way and I'm not worried about flooding or whatever, and can't predict or prevent an earthquake, just know what to do "IF" it happens.......CURL UP AND PRAY!

Diane L.
Diane L.5 years ago

Don't trust the "character counter" (there isn't one!), so to add.......some who live where I live, are on the banks of rivers, which tend to flood every spring. They complain, whine and ask for help when they lose property, and every year, the same thing happens yet again. My thoughts are "WHY" don't they move elsewhere, since they KNOW the river will flood again..........always does. They don't want to move! They like being next to the river when it's not flooding, and the river provides for rich farmland, etc. Same with my family that lives in Eastern Washington where they deal with wildfires every summer. To them, it's worth the risk. The people in Southern California deal with wildfires from the Santa Ana Mountains yearly, and many have lost EVERYTHING, yet they come back and re-build in the same spot, only to have to evacuate again the next year.

My point is this.....if you live in an area which is pre-disposed to natural disasters, such as hurricans, flooding, dust storms, tornadoes, then be prepared to deal with them. If you live in an area where they are NOT the "norm" and they come along, yes, it's something one can't be that prepared for! Now, when you speak about being without power, I went for 21 days without electricity when I lived on my former property, and was on a private well, so had no water, either! No heat, no water, no wood stove, no ability to cook a thing, couldn't take a shower or even brush my teeth, and had 9 horses, 2 dogs and 3 cat

Diane L.
Diane L.5 years ago

I live in the Pacific Northwest, and fortunately, we aren't subjected to hurricanes, but yes, there have been a few weird isolated "mini" tornadoes this year. I just read Erica's comments, and especially one to respond to a Merrily, who seems to think Irene has been more "newsworthy" because of politicians and/or rich people affected! OMG, I can't believe anyone would seriously think destruction could be political, but yes, if a storm such as Irene passed over an unpopulated area, might not be AS newsworthy since not as many lives affected or property destruction.

I think what Erica is saying is that the New Englanders have their own nature issues they're used to dealing with, just not hurricanes of this caliber, so weren't prepared. My son lived near Shreveport, Louisiana for 11 years and such storms were routine, and nobody seemed to be that worried beforehand. Many on the East Coast, can't understand why I live where I do........within 150 miles of an expected volanic eruption (Mt. Rainier) or where we've had 3 "major" earthquakes in the last 70 years. I guess it's because they can't be predicted and if it happens, it happens. No preparations can be made!

Sharon S.
Sharon W.5 years ago

Suffered through in CT for almost seven days without power or water - lots of warning but the gov't and elec company were not prepared, then refused to pay over-time to linemen to repair damages. Need to keep all the money for CEO bonuses and stock options...
Some still without power after a week for a Tropical Storm - imagine if it were like Katrina......YIKES!

Tierney G.
Tierney G.5 years ago

Ironic just now getting this e-mail due to the Hurricane and no power for 4 days. I live on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay and this storm appeared more mild than Isabel which they hardly warned us about but which knocked our power out for over a week as well as permanently bending trees and knocking many others down.
I was lucky this time no missing shingles (I had the 70 mile an hour ones put on the roof) only one tree down but not on any structures. Small enough I can handle it myself.
One thing that was very unique about this storm (as they are all different) was the constant sound of a frieght train speeding down the bay. it was LOUD for 24 hours at least. We lost power at 3 pm on Saturday. The rain was horizontal and pouring we had up to 7 inches in 24 hours. Most rian I have ever seen that fast.
The worst part no running water and no phone service as well. We here on the bay view the water as a gift and a curse at the same time. Our power always goes out and stays out sometimes for weeks! You learn how to rough it and all the cares of the world vanish for a little while. Just happy to be ok.