Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

US services restored after Irene

Cars and trucks were tossed like toys and houses torn from foundations in upstate New York (AP/The Daily Gazette, Patrick Dodson)
Homes in Long Island Sound in East Haven damaged by Tropical Storm Irene (AP/Connecticut National Guard, John Whitford)

Transportation was getting back to normal in most eastern states in the wake of Hurricane Irene, although some US towns still grappled with flooding and many homes remained without electricity.

At least 46 people were reported killed by the storm, which blew through the Caribbean and up the US east coast before hitting Canada.

In New York City, where people had braced for a disaster-movie scene of water swirling around skyscrapers, the subways and buses were up and running again in time for the Monday morning commute.

By Tuesday morning, a majority of passengers on the hard-hit Long Island railway and Metro-North railway were able to get on to trains to the centre of the city, although some Long Island communities were still without services because of flooded tracks.

To the north, landlocked Vermont contended with what its governor called the worst flooding in a century.

In many cases, the moment of maximum danger arrived well after the storm had passed, as rainwater made its way into rivers and streams and turned them into torrents. Irene dumped up to 11 inches of rain on Vermont and more than 13 inches in parts of New York.

Some Amtrak services in the north-east were limited or suspended, and airlines said it would be days before the thousands of passengers stranded by Irene find their way home.

The death toll for 11 eastern US states rose to at least 40 as bodies were pulled from floodwaters and people were struck by falling trees or electrocuted by downed power lines.

A driver was missing after a road collapsed and swallowed two cars about 62 miles north-east of Montreal. Irene also killed at least five people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti and one woman in Puerto Rico.

Early estimates put Irene's damage at 7-10 billion dollars (£4.2-6bn), much smaller than the impact of monster storms such as Hurricane Katrina, which did more than 100 billion dollars in damage.

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