What Now After Hurricane Irene Has Gone

Hurricane Irene has spent its force, entering New York as a downgraded Tropical Storm, and left many residents and experts breathing a sigh of relief over a storm that they thought could have been much, much worse.

Some early private estimates suggest the East Coast damage will amount to $7 billion, but this doesn’t come close to the nightmare residents and authorities of New York were fearing.

There is still danger ahead, though, as President Obama said that it “is not over” in a press conference in the White House Rose Garden. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who appeared with President Obama, said that “The worst of the storm has passed” but “our number one message is that . . . we are not out of the woods yet.”

Irene has brought a lot of water into bodies of water which will no send this excess water rampaging downstream, possibly causing flooding and other dangers along the way.

Vermont is already suffering from flooding, where parts of Brattleboro, Bennington and several other communities, were submerged and where one woman who was swept away and feared drowned in the Deerfield River.

Bill Read of the National hurricane Center said that there could be “Record flooding” in Vermont and New Hampshire in the coming days.

New York lifted its evacuation order for 370,000 people, and said that it hoped to have the subway back online by Monday. This is the first time the New York subway has been shut down by a natural disaster.

“All in all we are in pretty good shape,” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

There have been 21 reported deaths across 8 states as of Sunday evening. (For the grim tally, head on over to the Janesville Gazette.)

Overall, more than 5 million people were without power as Hurricane Irene surged up the eastern seaboard over the weekend, causing what is one of the worst electrical outages since the 2003 Northeast blackout.

The high winds uprooted trees and snapped utility poles, as well as unleashing storm surges which flooded some underground electric networks. One reactor at the nuclear power station in Maryland was forced to shut down when flying debris damaged equipment at the site.

Electric and Gas companies are warning customers that they should be prepared for lengthy outages as they work to get power and gas running to their customers.

The nuclear power stations in the path of the storm were required to shut down at leasdt two hours before hurricane-force winds reached them, which usually leads to the companies behind the stations shutting down power 8 to 10 hours prior. Exelon Corp. shut down its Oyster Creek plant near the New Jersey coast Saturday evening, and Progress Energy temporarily reduced the output of its Brunswick nuclear station on the boundary between North and South Carolina so that it could be shut down quickly if necessary. The plant returned to 100% power on Sunday.

For more news, keep a look out for your local newspaper websites, and as President Obama said, keep an eye on the news for further warnings.

Image Source: John Dalton, Gina Donahue, & Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York

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