Post Irene America takes stock

Tuesday 30th Aug 2011 by theWeather Club

People across the US East coast have started to count the cost of the Tropical Cyclone Irene, as it headed off into Canada. The storm has killed 40 people across 11 US states, mostly due to falling trees, ocean waves, downed power lines and raging floods. Meanwhile authorities warn that flooding could continue for up to three days in northern US states, so the crisis has not quite passed. More than five million US citizens remain without power, while Vermont is reeling from its worst floods in decades. The Consumer Federation of America has estimated that insurance claims could top £4.3bn.

Driving rains and flood tides damaged homes and cut power to more than three million people in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York alone. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will visit North Carolina and Virginia to survey the storm damage. Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Craig Fugate will head to Vermont.

In Vermont, the storm washed away bridges and swamped the town of Brattleboro. Touring the town, Governor Peter Shumlin said: “It breaks your heart to see the extraordinary devastation that we're seeing here in Vermont.” In the town of Waterbury, Irene closed the Vermont Emergency Management headquarters and the Vermont State Hospital, where some 50 patients were moved to other facilities. Authorities have asked people to avoid travelling in the state, which received 28cm of rain, and warned of significant flooding, damaged roads and downed power lines.

In other parts of the country, a New York man was electrocuted when he tried to rescue a child on a street which had downed power lines. Two men in Florida drowned as they tried to swim or surf rough waves. Seven people were crushed by falling trees in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said dozens of bridges and roadways would need to be repaired and that some of the state's rivers had yet to crest from flooding. “You're going see more damage before it starts to get better,” he told reporters. More than 300,000 people evacuated from low-lying areas in New York City are now able to return home. Since Saturday, Irene has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm and now a post-tropical cyclone.

Claims for wind damage are expected to reach one sixth of the total sum from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and claims for flood damage one tenth. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said on Monday that more homes were without power as a result of the storm in his state than at any other time in its modern history. States south of New York, where Irene struck at hurricane strength on Saturday and Sunday, have begun cleaning up, assessing the damage and counting the dead. North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue said some areas of her state were still unreachable.

Hurricane Irene on video

Tail end, Vermont

Before the arrival in NY

Montage - Bahamas to NC

View from the International Space Station

GOES satellite

Birth of a storm (not specifically Irene)